Friday, 27 July 2018

Learning a Language

Your flights are booked, your bags almost packed, and it's just a case of patiently killing time before your travels can start. So what to do with that time instead of clock-watching and wishing away your days until you can step foot into some far more exotic location than your own doorstep? Learn some of the language of the place you are going to!

Why learn the language?

But first thing first: before setting out on any adventure, it's always best to identify your objective. More than likely, if you're reading this, chances are your English is pretty solid and, btw, the rumour is true; we English speakers have it so easy for so many things in life, and that includes travelling as well. We are almost always guaranteed to have someone who speaks English wherever we are going, so most of us don't even try to learn anything else.

However, we should really do our best to escape that mentality. You can always sign up for language classes in your city with a language course provider like Language Trainers or you could try and find language exchanges nearby using MeetUp. But really, your goal can also be to learn a few basic words in the language that all the locals will be using around you. Going that extra mile to have better communication can infinitely enhance your holiday experience—you could start a simple conversation and avoid getting overcharged as a typical, clueless tourist. Ask for directions and find yourself a new friend. The possibilities are endless!

The issue of time

It's also true, that if you haven't learned much of the language by the time you only have a few days left before travelling, you won't be fluent by the time you step foot off the plane. But just knowing a few words to get you by will give you a touch more confidence. You don’t necessarily have to sign up for formal language classes; sifting through a nice Language for Dummies book a few minutes here or swiping around an app like Busuu for a few minutes there to get some vocabulary stuck in your head will do you wonders. It’ll also snatch you away from those games you keep promising yourself you'll stop playing on your lunch break!

Common sense

Because honestly, there are a lot of words in this world you can get the gist of the meaning of, and not all of them are out there to trip you up as false friends. You will have noticed things like baggage reclaim and security displayed in multiple languages along with symbols in the airports you have been to before. Some words are similar to English, and some just make sense. Trust yourself a little!

Those basic words 

So here are some essential words it's worth looking up the translation of before you travel, and they really aren't too hard. Yes, no, please, and thank you are good ones to start with along with hello and goodbye. Think of some food and drink, and learn the names of some buildings and
locations like hotels and the various places you're planning on snapping selfies in front of. Learn some transport words like train, bus, and taxi along with directions like left, right, opposite, and next to, throw in some questions words and phrases like can I have…?, where is…?, and how much…? and you're off to a great start!

Definitive lists 

In truth, there isn't one definitive list of basic words to learn in any language. You will read that there are a hundred best words to learn, six hundred, and in some optimistic places, perhaps even just ten! The key is to think about the kind of language you normally use, the kind of questions you will probably find yourself asking, and adapt what you choose to learn to your own needs.

In short, make learning language fun for you, and don't worry too much if, on arrival, you forget some of those hard-remembered words. After all, you're on holiday and will pick things up as you go. So stop making excuses! Learn some of the language and get out there!

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