12 Practical Language Learning Tips for Travelers


Learning a foreign language is both satisfying and useful, but most of us don't have the will to put in the necessary time and effort. Even when you know you are going to be travelling to a country whose language you don't understand, the idea of memorizing a few words or phrases enters your mind just days before the actual trip. Needless to say, you go there unprepared, which is a shame, because even a basic knowledge of the language can make your stay a more pleasant. Plus, you will feel more at ease, knowing that you can establish a conversation with the locals.

According to Mike Simpson, who is a professional translator for SuperiorPapers, you can learn the basics of another language and make your stay more awesome, by implementing the following tips:

1. Set a Specific Goal

Instead of setting out to "learn Spanish", which sounds pretty vague and which will get you nowhere, focus on a specific goal you want to achieve, like learning to hold a conversation in less than three months, or learning to present the most essential information about yourself in less than a week.

2. Focus on Words and Phrases You Will Need

The majority of courses and books are written in such a way that they cater to the needs of most people. But, if you need to learn a specific set of phrases, try and learn them right away, instead of starting from the very beginning.

3. Learn Entire Phrases

Instead trying to memorize individual words and then learning how to organize them into sentences, learn entire phrases and look up how to pronounce them properly by using Google Translate or searching for them on YouTube. You will progress much faster that way.

4. Get in Touch with a Native Speaker

These days, there are plenty of social media platforms and communication tools which allow you to talk to anyone from any corner of the globe, so why not use it to learn the basics of another language by getting touch with a native speaker? It's the next best thing after interacting with a native speaker in person.

5. Put Together a List of Words which Are Similar

In this day and age, it's hard to come across a language that doesn't have some words in common with the English language, or perhaps even your own native language. Do your research and compile a list of those which are identical or similar. After that, you will know which words from your own language you can rely on.

6. Use a Translation App

There are plenty of translation apps available out there, regardless of what platform you are using. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they are more than useful when your knowledge of a particular language runs out, and you need to explain something to the locals.

7. Hire an Interpreter

If you have some extra cash you can spend, perhaps it would be a good idea to hire an interpreter. Not only will drastically improve your progress, but you will also have someone that will be able to show you around and direct you to the most important sights.

8. Simply Observe

Sometimes, you don't have to do anything. Listen to what people around you are saying and doing. In most cases, you will be able to deduce what the conversation was about. You'll be surprised by how much you will pick up in just a couple of days.

9. Write Your Personal Info in a Local Language

Things like your name, the hotel where you are staying at, your phone number, or someone you can call in case you need help. You never know when you are going to need these, so it's best to have them prepared in advance and show them to someone who might be able to assist you.

10. Write an Introduction about Yourself

Focus on what an actual conversation with a native speaker would look like, then write a small introduction about yourself in your own language. After that, find someone online to translate it into the language you need and practice the correct pronunciation.

11. Befriend the Locals

Once you are friends with the locals who speak the language, they will become your safety net. And you will find it's pretty easy to befriend them, because they will appreciate your effort to get to know their language and culture.

12. Use Hand Gestures

OK, once everything else fails, this is your last resort. But, you will be surprised at how far using gestures and sounds will take you. Just make sure that some of the gestures aren't offensive to the country or the region you are in at that moment.


Knowing just a few words of any foreign language can make your travelling experience a whole lot better. It will allow you to see everything through different eyes, meet new and interesting people, and make lifelong memories. 



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26 June 2019
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