Being able to speak the language of the country you are visiting can have a dramatic effect on the way that you are able to experience the local culture.
Communicating in the native tounge at the market or in the street can earn the respect of local residents, as you are showing to them that you care about their culture and way of life. It sets you apart from the other tourists that they might usually come across.
Thinking of learning a new language to help you enjoy an immersive escape next time you travel? Here’s how to start:
Start from Scratch
For example, say you’re planning to travel to new country like Thailand and have no prior Thai language skills. Before you depart on your trip the best way to learn will be to look for online resources produced by experienced language learners, teachers and fellow travellers as these are always a good way to learn the basics!
Don’t overwhelm yourself with complicated grammar rules and vocabulary initially. Instead, begin with a few simple terms that will help you to start conversations or to barter in street markets.
Live Like a Local
Spending time in areas popular with tourists may mean that most local people speak to you in English. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re still new to the local language, but it does mean that you won’t be forced to test out your new language skills and could easily slip back into English to make life easier.
Putting yourself in situations where your only option is to speak the local language will not only endear you to the people you meet, but also potentially enable you to find out about hidden beauty spots, or other cool places where the locals hang out.
Keep a Journal
Noting down the new vocabulary that you have acquired each day, and any cultural observations or insights that you have gained will increase your chances of actually remembering what you have learnt. It also allows you to reflect back on what you have experienced and means that you can easily spot any areas of the language that you need to work on or improve.
You should note down in your journal how certain words are pronounced, and whether there are any formalities of address that you need to ensure you stick to so that you don’t offend anyone culturally. If you have learnt a new word or pronunciation in a certain setting or location, take note of this so that you can use this as a constructive place where you can work on your language skills again in the future.
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While the benefits of knowing another language are endless, it isn’t always easy to commit yourself to sit down and learn one. Travelling, however, is one of the best ways to actively enhance your language skills, without needing to spend hours in the classroom.
Featured photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash