Have you always wanted to be that traveller who can converse effortlessly in the local language? Well, with all of this isolated lockdown time, you’ve got an ideal opportunity to transform yourself into that person.
Here are 5 ways to start conversing in a new language in preparation for your next trip:
- Get the Duolingo app
- Watch Foreign Films And TV Series
- Translate your life
- Start An Online Course
First up, set realistic goals
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be able to fluently order a bento box in Japanese if you set yourself too big of a goal that you lose hope and fall off the train on day two. The key to learning a new language is consistency. If you set aside a small manageable task each day, and stick to it, you’ll be much further in three weeks than if you spend all day on it today and never pick it up again.
- Break it down into small tasks, one step at a time.
- Be consistent, do it every day. Setting aside some time in your calendar is a great way to stick to this.
- Set yourself a goal - like reading a magazine article in the new language.
- Get friends or family on board - just like exercise it’s easier when you’re in it together
- Focus on structure, not vocabulary. Learning “The dog is brown” in French for examplel is not something you would really use but learning phrases like “Where is the bathroom?", "How much does this cost?" or "Where is the best bakery around" (!) will be much more useful in everyday conversations.
1. Learn a new language with Duolingo
There’s no doubt you’ve heard of it, but have you tried it? It’s a language app and to be honest, it gets a little addictive once you get started. There are simple tasks that teach you the meanings of words, pronunciation lessons, and games to play. If you’ve got a single competitive bone in your body, you’ll want to speed through to get to the next level. It also features daily tasks that you need to complete to keep your learning regular, which really pays off and, with all this time on your hands you’ll be a pro before you know it!
2. Watch foreign films and TV series
This is a great activity to compliment your Duolingo lessons. You’re exposing yourself to the language, learning a bit about the culture and, enjoying a relaxing movie at the same time! Plus, in big news, Netflix even has a language learning tool that allows you to view subtitles in both the original language and English, pausing automatically to allow you to absorb the language in certain places. You can find a list of our top 28 travel films to watch here - many of which are foreign.
3. Listen to language podcasts
A great podcast to keep up your skills (when used frequently) is called News in slow French. There are different skill levels, so once you’ve got some basics downpat you can start on the beginner one, then work your way up. This podcast does grammar drills, sayings, and you get to hear the week’s news in slow, digestible French. There are News in slow podcasts in Spanish, German, Finnish, Japanese, Romanian, Arabic, Portuguese… the list goes on!
Coffee Break is another podcast that gives a language lesson that feels more like a coffee date, covering cultural knowledge and basic language skills; and again there are a few versions - German, Spanish, French, Italian, and more.
4. Translate your life
Say what? Well, you can change the language on many things you use day to day - such as your phone or your computer. You can label items in your house in the language you’re trying to learn, and even start speaking to your pet in the new language - "Comment ca va aujourd'hui Lassie?" or "Qui est un bon chien chien? Mais oui c'est toi mon toutou cheri!" - go on, try and translate these!
5. Start An Online Course
There’s no better way to learn than with a native, right? There are a heap of sites that run online courses, but if you’re more into face to face learning, there are websites like italki.com where you can link up with a native language teacher over a Skype, Facetime or Zoom call.
And chin up! The days of lockdowns and travel retrictions won't last forever. Check out some of our best deals that will be there to greet you on the other side!
This blog was originally written and published for Flight Centre Australia.