Traveling is supposed to be fun and relaxing. But it can be stressful if you don’t speak the same language. Whether you dedicate your vacation to resting or exploring new places, it can be super helpful to learn a language (even just a few words!) before you go.
In some cases, like with Americans who head to Cancún for spring break, travelers might not have issues communicating with the locals. After all, it’s a city known for receiving tourists from all over the world, especially from English-speaking countries. So ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions won’t often be a problem.
But that might not be the case for other, less touristy, places. What if you want to visit a charming little island off the coast of Mexico, where they are less accustomed to hordes of visitors. People in places like these are less likely to understand a language different from their own. And frankly, these are often the hidden gems of travel; the destination where you get a genuine feel for life in a foreign place.
That’s why, even if you just learn the basics, it can be a life-changing experience to learn a language other than your native tongue. Spanish, in this case, can be more than a cool addition to your résumé or a secret talent to impress your friends with. When you travel to places off the beaten path, it becomes a necessity.
Of course there are several easy ways to learn a language. And, if you have the time before your trip, we’d suggest you try a couple of them. Different formats can help with different aspects of the learning process. However, traveling is about immersing yourself in a new place, a new culture and, yes, a new language. Usually the best option for that is a service that will prepare you for the type of situation you’ll encounter in real life, like asking a stranger for recommendations, ordering a cab, or making small talk with a local.
Here are 3 easy ways to learn a language before your next trip:
1. Get the Duolingo app
This popular app uses games for a fun way to learn a language. It’s the perfect choice for those with a bit of a competitive streak. Beat the clock, collect points, and work your way up those levels! You’ll also have the chance to review what you’ve learned and what your weaknesses are so you can work on them. Duolingo is available for every major operating system and it can help you learn Spanish, French, German, Italian and 11 other languages! Plus you can connect with friends to challenge each other!
2. Buy Rosetta Stone software
Another option to learn a language, including Spanish, French, Italian and German, is a classic: Rosetta Stone. This software, which can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals, educators and businesses, has been helping people learn new ways of expression for 25 years. Needless to say, they must be doing something right! In addition to rave reviews, its TruAccent speech recognition technology sets Rosetta Stone apart from other similar services.
3. Skype with a Tutor
Thanks to the internet, there are now services that can connect you with a real tutor via Skype. Spanish55, for example, hooks you up with a certified Spanish tutor who, after an initial consultation, will work one-on-one with you via Skype so you can achieve your goals. And there are also sites like italki that offer other languages. So you’ll be able to learn a language at a fraction of the cost, in a fresh, dynamic way and, most important, from the comfort of your own home and at your own pace! Flexible, relaxed and rooted in reliable technology, services like Spanish55 can help you achieve fluency faster.
Have you used another method to learn a language before traveling? Tell us more about your favorite tools in the comments!
About the Author: Fernando Quintero is a writer and editor for Spanish55. A former movie blogger, he now works as a digital reporter for an international news platform.