By Kayleigh Head of Abroadwith, the sponsor of this post. Abroadwith is a platform allowing you to book trips where you stay with locals to learn their culture and language (and teach them yours, if you choose). You can even choose to live with a language teacher! Check out their tips below, and consider booking with them for a more meaningful trip.
Traveling is a great way to expand your worldview by discovering new places and meeting new people; however, with so many things to do, it’s easy to forget how fulfilling it can be to learn a new language on the road. Yes, it can be nerve-wracking, worrying about making mistakes; and sometimes it’s just easier to speak English. But remember: learning a language is like being given a key that opens doors into local culture. It provides the opportunity to connect with local people on a deeper level, while gaining a better understanding of the country you’re visiting.
Best of all, it doesn’t have to be painful. To help, Abroadwith shares some essential (and easy!) tips for learning a language on the move.
1. Stay Local
It may seem obvious, but avoiding tourist spots and spending time in small towns or rural locations can help you quickly pick up the local language. By throwing yourself in at the deep end you’ll be forced to interact with native speakers, which will improve your confidence greatly.
What’s more, you can easily avoid hostels overrun by English speakers by staying with a local host. Through online communities such as Abroadwith, you can find hosts based on common interests and lifestyles (listed in host profiles). You’ll also choose between studying at a local school, undertaking a tandem language exchange or staying with a qualified language teacher.
Bonus: staying with a host helps create lasting memories and forge memorable friendships.
2. Learn On The Move
Traveling inevitably means spending copious amounts of time sitting on buses, trains and planes. Use your time wisely by learning a language en route. Podcast series such as Coffee Break are an easy way of learning on the go. Simply plug in your earphones and gaze out the window while learning new words and phrases. Additionally, the Duolingo app puts a fun gamification twist on language learning.
As long as you make sure to choose a responsible volunteer program, volunteering offers a hands-on way to learn a language. Through working with locals on a project you’ll be surrounded by the native tongue. This makes it easy to pickup common words and phrases while becoming familiar with the sound of the language.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is one platform to check out, where you offer labor on organic farms around the world in exchange for room and board. Additionally, you’ll practice the local language with fellow volunteers and hosts over delicious farm-to-fork meals your hard work made possible.
4. Join A Sport Or Exercise Class
Taking part in a local exercise class is an effective way to learn a language in a non-classroom setting. Although it will be tricky at first — especially if it means being shouted at in a foreign language while trying to catch your breath — the experience pays off as you learn new words through dynamic actions. Attending a class also provides an excellent opportunity to converse with local people.
Find sporting events or classes through websites such as Meetup.com. Alternatively, you can discover classes by keeping an eye out in local newspapers (or, if you do stay in a hostel, their bulletin boards).
5. Talk To Everyone
Talking to local people will improve your language skills immensely. Although it may be nerve-wracking at first, striking up a conversation becomes less daunting the more you do it. Whether it means asking someone for directions or ordering a coffee, every interaction develops your confidence and makes speaking the language more fun. Tip: going to a bar alone — or having your group open up their circle — is a great way to seem approachable for conversation.
Learning a language while traveling is easier than you think. Moreover, locals will appreciate your efforts to better understand their culture. And the more you converse, the more confident you’ll be for future trips.
What tips do you have to add on how to learn a language? Please share in the comments below!