How To Learn A Language Before Traveling

Let’s face it:

Learning a foreign language is a challenge many folks don’t want to face.  As an American, I feel like we’re especially guilty of this.  The US is actually largely monolingual (yep, the stats show it’s not just a stereotype) and 64% of us have never even left the US!  Many of us clearly don’t give much thought to how to learn a language before traveling.

But the truth is, there are many benefits of learning a foreign language for travel.  Primarily, natives of the countries we do travel to really appreciate it when we try to learn even a little of the local language.  I mean, don’t you appreciate it when a tourist makes an attempt in English?

So, to help you out, here are 4 tips on how to learn a language before your next trip abroad

Dual-Wield Duolingo and Hellotalk-2 of the Best Language-Learning Apps

Duolingo and Hellotalk are two free language-learning apps that make the perfect pair for picking up the basic words and phrases you’ll need before you set off.

Start with Duolingo’s short and interactive lessons, complete with spoken and written practice, grammar lessons, and vocabulary building.  It works on a laptop or your phone, so you can take it with you. Additionally, there are a handful of features available to users even if you don’t have an internet connection!

Next, jump onto Hellotalk and practice what you’ve learned with native speakers using text, voice recording, video and voice calls, and correction tools.  This app is great to expand your vocabulary by familiarizing yourself with local slang specific to the region you’re headed to!

Use Mnemonics to Help Remember Words and Phrases

Mnemonics are memory systems (tricks) that allow you to retain and recall specific information with greater ease. This proves to be especially useful for language learning, as you can pair vocabulary words in your target language with a mental image of a similar sounding word in your native tongue.

For example, raupe in German means caterpillar. To remember this word, I would picture a caterpillar swinging from a rope!

Other mnemonic devices include using the first letter of each of the words in a list or sequence (think ROY G. BIV, the acronym used to to recall the colors of a rainbow) or funny phrases, like one of my favorites from Spanish class years ago:

Every ‘-cion’ sings like Dion.  This tells us that words ending in ‘ción’ tend to be feminine and use ‘la’!

You can do the same for words and phrases in your target language before you travel, so they’ll be easier to recall when you’re abroad.

Final words on how to learn a language before traveling

If you read our post on why 2018 is the perfect year to learn English, you already know the benefits of learning a language before traveling.  While it’s true that people speak English around the world, we strongly encourage you to learn a bit of the local language, as it will help you:

  • Meet new friends
  • Navigate your new location more easily and
  • Experience the culture fully as you peek through the window that language opens into the lives of the locals.

So don’t wait until after you arrive! We’re here to help you learn a language before traveling

You’ll be glad you did!