We all want to immerse ourselves in the local culture when we go away, and one of the best ways to do so is to learn the basics of the local language. We’ve got a few tips to get you started.
Ease yourself in
The key to successfully learning the basics of any language is not expecting too much of yourself when you start. Like most things in life, mastering the basics of a new language takes dedication and practice. Don’t expect to pick up your book of phrases the night before and be able to tackle the basics. If you want to learn you should start a few months before your holiday, even just spending twenty minutes a day can help you become familiar with the language.
Try to immerse yourself in the language by placing sticky notes on objects around the house. Stick the word ‘le tableau’ on the table and ‘la fenêtre’ on the window to help you learn French, for example.
Keep it specific
You will begin to feel disheartened if you try to tackle too much, so focus on key words and phrases that you know you will be using. Think about where you are going and what activities you will be doing. If you know you will be eating at restaurants, learn names of local cuisine, how to order and how to ask for the bill. If you want to try out water sports, learn how to ask the price, how to barter and how to understand basic instructions.
Buy a travel guide
Often tourist guides have a dictionary of common words or phrases for tourists at the back that you can familiarise yourself with. Better still, you could buy a dictionary of words and phrases and mark the ones that will be most useful to you. Keep it with you so your friends can test you on the flight and to reassure you that you can refer to it should you need to do so. You could also download an app on your phone for instant translations if you’re struggling.
Try different apps
There are a whole range of different free or paid for apps that you can download to help you get to grips with the basics of a language. Using an app will let you hear how words and phrases are pronounced, something a guide or dictionary will not offer. This will make you even more familiar with the language, helping you practice before speaking to a local. Some apps will also remind you to practice, helping you keep on top of your learning.
Get the whole family involved
Learning the basics of a new language could be a fun activity for the whole family. Try practising together over the dinner table, starting simply by naming the objects in front of you and slowly building up to using phrases. Ask each other how your days went and try to hold a conversation. You will be teaching your children the importance of this essential skill. According to research by The Telegraph, children “who learn a foreign language outscore their non-foreign language learning peers in verbal and maths standardised tests”.
Make learning fun on holiday by encouraging your children to speak to waiters in their language. You could even search for a hotel that offers language classes for the whole family to help you while abroad. Use a reliable website such as Travezi to help you find the right hotel for your trip.