Top Ten Tips for Learning a New Language
When travelling to new countries, knowing the language always makes everything a lot easier - especially if you are staying for a while. If you don’t already know the language, this can be a problem. Learning a new language can be very tough. When preparing for a trip to a country where you don’t know the language, you should always learn the basics. Some people go even farther and take classes months before leaving for their trip. However, it is easy to overlook the fact that you won’t know the language, especially if you aren’t an experienced traveller.
If you are leaving for your trip soon, and you are panicking because you’re one of those people who didn’t even think about the language until the last minute, then these tips might make your life a lot easier.
1. If you have time before you leave, find someone who speaks the language, or look online, and learn the rules of grammar and sentence structure. If you know how to put sentences together, it will be a lot easier to communicate. Words you will learn and remember as you use them. This will also make you more confident, and it will be easier to speak to people.
2. Don’t learn by translating the language you’re learning into the language you know. Learn by connecting the word to the object, or whatever you are trying to describe. This is why Rosetta Stone is a very good program for learning languages. You didn’t learn your first language by translating…act like a baby!
3. Get a dictionary and a phrasebook (don’t use a translator app on your phone unless someone who speaks the language can confirm that it’s accurate, a lot of people use these and learn things the wrong way). Whenever you say something in your language, look up how to say it in the language you’re learning. The words and phrases will stick in your head when you repeat them.
4. If you are travelling with your family or friends, make sure they learn it with you, and try to speak to each other in the language you are learning, even if you are only using random words in the middle of a normal sentence. This will help you remember words and phrases.
5. This is a weird one, but it helps. Try to think in the language you’re learning. Even talk out loud to yourself if it helps more! Again, it will help you remember words and phrases; they will stick in your head. When you use muscles they get stronger, so use that one!
6. When you get to your destination, use what you have learned as much as possible, and keep learning! Don’t speak in your normal language, even to your family or friends (as much as you can).
7. Listen as much as you can. As you are walking through the street, try to understand other people’s conversations. Watch TV or listen to the radio. Just try to understand as much as you can, and if you don’t understand a word, look it up right away.
8. Read everything, even when it isn’t necessary. Get a newspaper, or a kid’s book from the library. Keep practicing and exercising those muscles - it will do you a lot of good. Just try to understand as best as you can, and if you don’t understand something, again, look it up.
9. Practice pronouncing words. This will help you become more confident with speaking in public. Read signs and labels out loud, even in public you can repeat them under your breath. If you aren’t comfortable with a word, look up the pronunciation online or ask a local, then practice saying it until you are content with your pronunciation.
10. Try to make friends with locals. They will help you, and they will correct you when you say something wrong, which strangers normally won’t be comfortable doing. This will also make your stay much more interesting, because they will know about events that you would never be able to go to otherwise, and things like the best restaurants and cafes to visit.
I hope these tips help you, and remember: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Making mistakes is how you learn, and everyone has to make them in their life. Be confident with what you already know, and be willing to learn more. Just practice, practice, practice, and you will get there. Good luck!
Emily Zumchak is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, and is currently learning Italian in Italy.