We’ve almost come to the end of our language learning journey. Between learning why to pick up a language, and how to do it… We’ve learnt essential travel phrases, and key parts of a country’s culture. Through it all, the pot of our language capacity spills over occasionally, causing strain and stress to us. ‘Why should we learn this, even?’, we ask. At times like these, a good hack here and there is the answer to an overloaded brain. Tips and tricks really help in simplifying processes, so much so that you don’t feel as though you’re pressurised to learn at all. In this article, we’ve compiled 9 – so that even if you don’t like one of them, you’ve got eight more to fall back on! Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Some trips may be unplanned; a sudden work call and you’re off. Others may take time to form – which gives us time to work out ways to learn language as well. In the former case, it is a good idea to build language lessons into your travel – but of course, learning it beforehand is even better. Search online for key phrases (hint: our blog has good ones), or start speaking to a bilingual local.
You can also use language apps that help you learn small tidbits of information easily. These are more likely to be useful on-the-go, as they are portable and convenient to use. Short lessons, small bits of info and a new bilingual you!
Basics > Everything Else
Learn only the basics. For short trips, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to put an extensive language learnt to good use. In these cases, learning only the necessary bits will cut out unnecessary clutter in your brain. It also makes sure that you’ve more time to focus on less information – meaning that the less information could be retained better. Everything else in a language builds on the basics, so if your foundation is strong, your metaphorical building (of vocabulary, grammar and such) will not fall.
These basics may include greetings, introducing yourself, words for commonplace objects and places, and also numbers, dates, alphabets and other such symbols. Don’t worry! Looking at this, it may seem like an extensive list, but you can rest assured that it will exhaust before you do.
Language Learning Is More Than Just Speaking
It is. Understanding body cues is just as important as understanding what somebody is saying. Different cultures do things differently, and comprehending their gestures could be useful – especially when they’re not saying anything. For example, greetings around the world – bowing, kisses on the cheek, handshakes, waving and even smiling: all might mean the same thing, but in different parts of the world. To truly learn a language, you must be able to understand more than just what is coming out of one’s mouth.
Body cues are not all, though. Reading and writing may also be extremely useful, as with this knowledge you can read signs and menus, and write letters or things you want to know.
Numbers are More Important Than You Think
Numbers exist in every system of language – so there must be something vital about them. From dates of the month, to prices on a water bottle, to even ages of your newfound local friends – numbers are everywhere. Which is why, you will need to know them before you travel. Prioritise learning at least from 1 through 50, as well as the large ones like 100, 1000, and 10,000. Some currencies are likely to not go above a double-digit unit per daily spending (like the USD), and some might start from triple digits itself (like the Korean Won).
Learning markers (or words for units) for currency, items/inanimate things, and people is also something that is learnt along with the numbers. Using the word for a unit of boxes – but to describe a person – might be seen as extremely rude. So, beware!
Two Most Important Situations
Every trip we go on is a different experience. We might go on a holiday, or a work trip – and even these subcategories can have many variations. For this reason, identifying your two main situations – the two things you will definitely be doing, in two distinct places in that country – would be a great idea. Once identified, you can work on building your vocabulary with words around this theme. This way, you are more likely to use the words you learn, and are able to customise your learning to your situation – extracting the most value out of the time spent learning.
Your two most important situations don’t explicitly have to be a place, or a series of objects. It is a cumulation of the whole experience in that situation, including times, dates, objects, places and people. It can be customizable to more than two as well, however, the smaller the number the more effective it will be.
Get Used to The Auditory
Auditory cues of a language are very important if you are going to be hearing it spoken constantly – i.e., if you’re on a trip in a foreign country. For this reason, you should get as accustomed to listening to the language as possible. This really helps in understanding the way the language’s intonations and letters sound. For places where the dialect of English sounds completely different, hearing the English accent for the first time may sound like a changed language!
Some ways to get used to the auditory feel of a new language is to listen to music, podcasts and interviews! Anything with a sound-background (get it) should suffice. One would think that subtitles are an added bonus, since you can understand the content. However, it takes the focus away from the way of speaking towards the meaning of what’s being spoken – so it doesn’t work so great for this particular purpose.
Schedule It In
Like anything else you want to learn, language also needs to be a consistent effort. Making a habit out of learning everyday greatly increases the chances of you retaining what you’ve learnt. Moreover, spending 10-30 mins a day compounds to at least 300 hours a month spent learning a language – sounds significant, right? Having a schedule makes it easier to devote this time, as you are less likely to procrastinate.
Perks of scheduling also include that you can mark your progress by looking back at the days gone by, as well as the schedule you’ve followed. This increases motivation to learn further, as well as acts as a clap on the back for what has already been done!
Find People to Practice With
Everything that one learns needs to be practiced. What is the practical use of learning a language if you cannot use the knowledge? In the case of finding friends, this is likely to be used as an incentive to interact with new people – form new connections, whilst being assured that the other is aware of your probable mistakes. You don’t have to feel judged for not knowing the language, as this fact is established in the beginning itself. The friend can act as motivation to do better, too! You can keep each other accountable for schedules set, or for recapping what you’ve learnt.
TV and Film as Learning Tools
Using TV and film as learning tools are widely accepted, and done many times over – so there’s merit in this! The most common reason is to get a glimpse into the way the language is spoken between locals. Although, an underlying theme is that of culture sharing – films get you immersed into the culture of the country, and also allow for a deeper connection to the language being spoken. Themes throughout the TV series might be relatable to you, which in turn helps you bond with the language as well. Hence, the idea of using TV and Film as an advantage in language learning is on our tips-and-tricks list!
And There We Have It!
Now that we have all we need in our kitty, the only thing left to do is learn. Using the tips and tricks mentioned here, you can go out and have more fun with what would be an already enjoyable language learning session. After learning the language, the next step is to actually get on that plane! But wait – Visa2Fly is here to help you with all your visa, SIM card and travel insurance needs. Make sure to get yours today – contact us to know more! If you like our blogs, be sure to check out our other ones on why you need to go on a solo trip at least once in your life, and choosing between a hostel vs. hotel for it!