Breaking Through the Language Barriers

One consistent issue that may arise when traveling the world are the language barriers you’ll probably experience. When you begin traveling, you experience a culture shock when visiting another country because it can be completely different than you’re used to. Understanding that each culture and country is not the same is key with this new experience. Although many people across the world may know and understand English, a part of the experience is also to attempt learning the language of the place you are visiting to better get around and communicate with locals. Learning their language, wherever you decide to go, is a sign of effort and respect to at least try and better understand locals and their culture.

Where should you start? Once you’ve figured out where you want to travel to and coordinate your plans, in preparation for your trip, start learning any new languages you might be interacting with. Although Rosetta Stone is an excellent resource, it can be costly, especially if it may be only one trip. I would then resort to free online videos across the web, or just go straight to Google. If you go through a specific website, it might be nicer to find more of a laid out plan of where to start, what you will learn and put you more on a specific path you can easily follow. YouTube on the other hand, is a quick and easy source to start finding beginner videos to help you learn and pronounce at the same time. When you learn new words and phrases, they can look one way on paper, and sound very different from what you may have thought so learning, hearing the words and pronouncing them back simultaneously will be very beneficial for a productive lesson. Depending on how long your stay will be and how frequently you might end up in a country with a specifically spoken language, this will help you figure out how in depth your learning should be. Either you can stick to the basics of words, phrases and basic understanding or you can go deeper into tenses, grammar, and full-blown conversations.

When should you start? I’d recommend learning a new language about a month prior to your departure. You can maybe start off as little as a week before and keep a booklet or notes on you to reference or you can start even longer than a month: it all depends on how fast you learn and how much you want to grasp. Minimally I would try and learn as much as five days a week and be practicing seven. Twenty one days makes a habit so getting into that groove and setting time aside to learn will get you where you need to be. Learning the language isn’t necessary when traveling but it is a huge benefactor in the experience as a whole. Knowing some of their cultural differences before arriving can help with the adjustment of being there and avoiding any issues.