Learning Language Abroad: How to Get the Most of Your Trip

You just booked your summer vacation to Greece? You decided to visit multiple European countries throughout the summer? You’re finally going to make your dream of seeing Japan come true? How about getting something more out of your trip? How about learning the language of the country you chose?

Of course, everyone speaks English nowadays. If you chose a famous tourist destination, in particular, you can speak English in stores, restaurants, and everywhere you go. But, that’s not the point. The point of traveling is to experience the culture. We want to taste the food, see the art and architecture, and visit local festivals if possible. The language is part of that culture. We can’t avoid it.

We’ll give you few tips for fast and effective language learning while you’re traveling.

  1. Communicate With Native Speakers

What’s the main rule to learning anything? Practice! When you’re travelling, talk to the taxi drivers, the sales people in the local stores, the staff at your hotel or hostel… talk to as many people as possible. Of course, you’ll be careful not to get too personal with strangers, but you do want to be friendly and open for communication.

Learn few words and ask people to teach you something more. If you’re buying bread at the store, ask how they call them on the native language. Repeat after them. Next time, use that foreign word when you’re asking for bread at a restaurant.

  1. Watch Local Commercials and TV Shows

If there’s a TV in your room, you can use its full potential. It’s always fun to watch foreign commercials. The people from this country have a unique sense of humor, which you’ll see throughout the advertising culture. The TV shows will also help you learn new words.

If you want to watch some TV before bed, it’s a smart thing to pass on the new Netflix series and watch local channels. Watch them even if you don’t understand anything. Practice pronunciation by repeating after the characters. Some of the words will stick with you.

  1. Get Promotional Catalogues from Stores

You know how big stores always have items on promotion? They have promotional catalogues or flyers. Get them; they are free! You’ll see images accompanied with prices and words. It’s the words you’re interested in. Relate those images to the words and learn them! If you made friends with natives who can help you with the pronounciation, great!

  1. Volunteer!

Is there a cause you care for? Are you engaged in non-governmental organizations at home? Why don’t you search for similar organizations in the area you’re headed to and offer your assistance? This is more than traveling; it’s a chance to do something for the community while you’re visiting.

You’ll be immersed in their world, and you’ll definitely get to learn and practice the language. This activity doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You’ll still have time for relaxation and exploring. You’ll simply devote two hours a day to a cause you care about. You can wake up early and do that instead of taking a morning walk.

Volunteering is great because it allows you to make connections with people with similar interest. You’ll continue communicating with those people via social media, so you’ll keep practicing the language even after your trip ends.

  1. Learn Something Beforehand

You’ll get tons of opportunities to learn the language when you arrive at your destination. However, it’s smart to start early. Thanks to Duolingo, Rosetta Stone and similar services, you can start learning today. Just pick your language and start going through one brief lesson on a daily basis. You’ll have a good foundation of words and grammar before you even get there. During the trip, you’ll only need to practice.

Are you ready for a language-learning experience while travelling? It will make your trip much more valuable and memorable. It does take an effort, but it’s fun at the same time.

Julie Petersen is a tutor and an educational blogger from Stanford, California. Visit Julie’s blog or follow Julie on twitter JuliePetersen88

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