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How to learn a language while traveling

Learning a new language while traveling opens up your world to more conversations with interesting people and takes your travel experiences to a deeper level. You will gain more confidence by learning to communicate with local people as you travel, allowing you to build your language skills!

What is the best way to learn a language while traveling? What are the best apps for language learning and what are the best techniques for practicing and memorizing new words? Here is a list of great language learning methods.

Choose your travel destinations based on the new language you want to learn.

Your goal should be to start translating everything in your head - this will get you actively thinking in your new language as soon as possible. Take it upon yourself to speak the language you’re learning every chance you get, even if the person you are speaking to can speak your native language.

Start practicing to speak purposefully in the local market. Stop people on the street and ask for directions to places (even if you already know where you’re going!). Whether you're on local transportation, eating at a restaurant, grabbing a coffee, or strolling in the park, start a conversation with the people around you.

It may seem a bit scary at first, but soon it will become comfortable. You should practice on your own too. Online applications like duolingo or Babbel are great for building your vocabulary and improving grammar - and can be done anytime, anywhere!

Imitate the sounds, tones & expressions you hear

The advantage of being close to native speakers of the language you are learning is that you will be able to replicate the language based on the way of speaking and the colloquialisms you hear. Learning a written language is one thing, but what the people around you say is another thing.

It will be easier for you to notice the patterns in the way people are talking to you and to identify the cadence of specific phrases that have been said. Think of phrases in your local language; do people have a specific way of pronouncing them? Would it be weird if someone greeted you with a certain tone?

Thus the value of learning a language while traveling and interacting with locals is that it teaches the listener both conscious and subconscious language.

Overcome the fear of mistakes

It can be hard to learn a new language while you travel and you can certainly hit a few plateaus, so be sure to inspire yourself by often reflecting on how much you learned and successful interactions you’ve had where you were able to get closer to people.

Try to overcome any fear of mistakes as soon as possible because as a language learner you are going to make a lot of them. Once you learn to let go of your restrictions and talk freely, you will improve.

If you don’t understand something, don’t just smile and walk away, ask questions. It will be a challenge and you may feel silly at first, but once you see yourself improving, it will inspire you.

By spending extended time in the country of the language you are learning to speak, you will see that your speech and pronunciation improve naturally. You may find yourself being corrected at times, but you need to learn not to take this constructive criticism personally because it is incredibly helpful.

And when you’re not involved in a conversation, actively listen for words you recognize and try to follow the conversation. Building listening comprehension is essential in your language learning journey so be sure to listen to local radio, watch TV, listen to music and engage with the conversations around you.

Learning some of the basics of pronunciation and general language limitations before traveling can save you a headache later on. Using language translator mobile apps can help you get a better understanding of the language on the go, however, the more effort you put into learning the language before traveling, the more you will be able to take advantage of the immersion and the more value you will gain from your travel experience.