Traveling the world and seeing new things is the dream of many people on this planet. That being said, the stress of not being able to get one’s point across due to the language barrier causes many to give up on their dream. Instead of doing that, why not have a plan to allow one to communicate more effectively without the months or years of study required to be fluent in a language. #TheOpenRoad
Read on for some quick tips on how to do so. Oh and don’t forget to check out my last post on places to travel.
Let’s face it. One is not going to hold complex conversations about politics with a complete stranger in a foreign land with just a month or less of training. When one is traveling to a new place though, common phrases are a necessity to getting around. Understanding this and practicing how to say these key sentences will quickly get one acclimated and closer to being conversational in a new language.
By practicing a few of these and learning the key answers, in particular the words you need to get your point across, is all that is necessary to get over the barrier of not understanding. At least making this effort will signal to a foreign person that you are trying, and for most that is enough to create a small bond one never would have had achieved any other way.
Finding a local to help you get your point across is always a great strategy. If you’re a native English speaker then you shouldn’t have any problems trying to find someone who can help you. Use one’s hands to describe in combination with the expressions learned will go a long way in getting any point across. Be careful of this though as it can backfire on you. When I was in Asia a few years ago, I told someone who was heckling me to “Shoo” with the classic brushing away hand action. Little did I know that in Asia the brushing away action actually means for someone to come closer, oops!
Another great way to pick up a language is to take an online course or a class at your local college. Yes, this takes more time but you’ll be able to work through structured training to get some great results. I know a few people from my time traveling in India who were trying to learn english online, they took a relatively cheap course called, How to Learn English. Within days they started to see a real difference in their communication skills. Being part of a Facebook group also made communicating with others who are also learning a lot easier.
The same goes for people trying to learn Spanish, French, etc. Online language training can be a great way to start learning a new language. A popular example of this is Rosetta Stone.
Youtube is a great way to hear languages being spoken by native speakers. You can learn about local dialects and hear slang terms that you may not learn in a structure course. One tip I found on youtube is using movies to learn how to speak a language, movies are a great way to learn how people speak naturally in conversation and what’s relavent in popular culture (well, if you’re watching current films). Check out the video below to see what I mean:
If you’re really trying to get more of a grasp on a language before you travel. You can use technology to your advantage as well. Many mobile applications can greatly assist one in communicating effectively but never use it as one’s primary crutch. Apps such as Duolingo can we a great way to learn the basics of a language, in fact, if you spend long enough with the app you can find yourself quite proficient in a language.
Do you have any language learning tips? Reach out to me on twitter!