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5 Effective (And Painless) Ways To Learn A Language While Traveling

how to learn a language

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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.
how to learn a language

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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.
how to learn a language

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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.
how to learn a language

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3. Volunteer

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 pick up 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.
how to learn a language

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4. Join A Sport Or Exercise Class

Taking part in a local exercise class can be a meaningful travel experience as well as 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 Alternatively, you can discover classes by keeping an eye out in local newspapers (or, if you do stay in a hostel, their bulletin boards).
how to learn a language

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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! 

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  1. Kennedy Lazar on at 3:02 pm

    I love this! I spent two weeks in Thailand and it was magical! I even picked up a few words from the cute kiddos I taught! Such a great way to learn a new language for sure.

  2. Jenny on at 3:11 pm

    Great post! As a traveler myself, I practice these things myself 🙂

  3. Dana on at 5:48 pm

    Talking to everyone you can is one of the best ways to learn a new language while traveling. People are generally very helpful when they see you trying and it creates a wonderful memory too!

  4. Sheila on at 11:45 am

    These are great tips! I find that I am too shy and self-conscious to speak in another language, despite my mom being a first generation immigrant to the US from Spain. I’ve never felt like I was good enough at speaking Spanish, so I stopped trying. This is giving me some new motivation to try. 🙂

  5. Peru on at 8:10 am

    Great post!
    Learning a bit of the local language should be on the checklist when you travel.
    I recommend reading the signs in the local language and try to draw conclusions. You can find very fun mnemonics; for instance in Finland, ‘Stop’ is ‘SEIS’, which means ‘six’ in my native Spanish.
    All the best

  6. Sheena on at 7:37 am

    Great tips. I love doing volunteer works. Aside from the fact that I get to help the community, I also got a chance to interact with locals. That way, I learned the local life and their language.

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