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Traveling abroad is much more interesting when you understand some of the local lingo.
You don’t need to master it or speak it fluently. You simply need to have a few basic words & phrases in your memory before you go.
Here are some important words & phrases you should know:
- Numbers and amounts – for addresses, money, sizes, quantities
- Signs – open & closed, traffic signs, etc.
- How to order food & beverages – and ask for your check, and pay
- Common pleasantries – hello & goodbye, please & thank you, yes & no
- How to find your way around – Where is?… How do I get to?…
But if you want to have fun while you learn, then these are the best options for you:
#1 – Watch Foreign Movies
Not only will you be hearing the words spoken at the same speed as you will hear them when you go abroad, but you also get to see some great movies at the same time.
Always watch the original version of a foreign movie. Never watch movies that are “dubbed” in your own language — because much of the cultural meanings and references get lost in translation.
You can watch foreign language films with subtitles in your native language, or in the language of the original movie. Both ways are helpful because you can see and hear the words at the same time.
TIP: The movie genre you choose is important. For example, humor doesn’t translate well, so stay away from comedies. You want an action movie without long drawn-out dialogue scenes.
#2 – Listen to Foreign Songs
Songs are a great way to learn new phrases — because music gives you a basic rhythm and rhyme, which helps new words stick in your head better.
You need to listen to foreign languages as though they’re music. So let’s say you’re learning French. You have music in French in the background. You have the radio in French. You have the TV in French. You get used to the sounds of the language first. Then you start learning the words. And then you start learning the grammar. The reason is: music engages more parts of your brain than language does. You’re more apt to remember something if you remember it to a tune. Source
Try to find some well-known songs in the language you want to learn.
If you don’t know any artists from that country, then go online and do a quick search. Every country has its pop stars …even if the rest of the world doesn’t know about them.
TIP: Make a point to listen to foreign songs wherever you are — at home, walking in the park, or traveling to work.
#3 – Read Foreign Newspapers Online
Thanks to the Internet, you can now find most of the main newspapers from other countries online.
Reading a newspaper from the country that you’ll be visiting will help you discover terms and expressions that are unique to that country. Plus, you’ll learn about some local issues of importance before you travel.
For the words and phrases that you don’t understand, translate them using:
TIP: The comments sections in newspapers are especially useful for picking up common expressions and slang.
#4 – Read Children’s Books In Foreign Languages
Children’s books in foreign languages are easier to read and understand than adult books in foreign languages — especially if you know the stories already.
Remember how you first learned to grasp the basics of your native language? It was by poking your way through children’s books!
The concept is exactly the same for you now as an adult learning a new language. It’s a great way to learn the basic sentence structure and vocabulary without getting too lost.
TIP: Start with first or second grade reading level books, rather than jumping in to a more advanced level just because you’re an adult.
#5 – Explore Cultural Cuisine
To learn a good deal of food vocabulary (and dining etiquette), browse through foreign recipe books and eat at authentic ethnic restaurants whenever possible.
Open your ears and your eyes to see and hear what others are saying there.
Not only will you have a good grasp of the local cuisine, but you’ll also have a better understanding of the types of ingredients that the locals use in their food.
Make a mental note of some foods you might like to try while you’re there.
TIP: Don’t pass up the opportunity to make some delicious meals at the same time!
#6 – Practice, Practice, Practice With Language Learning Apps
Language learning apps are easier to use (and much more fun!) than language learning software programs. Heck, it’s almost like you’re playing a game!
These are some of the best language learning apps:
- DuoLingo: Learn Languages Free
- Memrise: Free Language Learning
- Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages
- Byki: Mobile Language Learning
TIP: In addition to using mobile apps on your smartphone, you will also find a wide variety of language learning tools online.
Without a doubt, learning some words & phrases in the local language will help you tremendously when you travel abroad — but books alone can be boring. I mean, just how much about grammar and verb conjugations can you absorb in one sitting?
Using these tips, it will be fun for you to learn a new language.
You’ll improve your foreign language skills, without it feeling like hard work!
More Tips For Learning A New Language… Fast!
- Learning A New Language: 10 Things You Need To Know
- 5 Great Language Learning Tools You Probably Haven’t Heard Of
- How To Learn Any Language In 6 Months
- The Secret To Learning A Foreign Language As An Adult
- 12 Best Apps For Learning Spanish Like A Boss
- Mistakes People Make When Learning A Foreign Language
- How I Learned To Speak 4 Languages In A Few Years
- 10 Tips & Tricks To Help You Learn A Language
- Rapid Language Hacking: How To Be Fluent In 3 Months
As a lifelong traveler, I like to help people find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Travel Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I'm SUPER organized and I love to pack! I've lived in 6 different states (Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas) and have visited every other state in the U.S. — except Hawaii. (Can you say bucket list?) I've been on several different cruises, airplanes, and boats in my life and I currently enjoy the outdoors by bicycling, motorcycling, Jeeping, RVing, camping, or just walking my dogs. My favorite "hobby" is riding on the back of our Harley-Davidson Road Glide traveling cross country — which we usually do at least once each year. We even rode from Tennessee to Alaska once! When I'm not on the road, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).