learn a language before travel

After a year at home, we’re all ready to hit the road, spend some time abroad.

Once it’s safe to do so and international borders reopen, you can, especially if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Today we’re going to talk about another thing you can vaccinate yourself against in order to make travel even more special — obliviousness about the places you visit.

Being able to speak Spanish — or the native tongue of wherever you are visiting — not only boosts your overall experience there, it shows you are a smart and conscientious traveler who cares about places they travel. It also helps you gain a basic understanding of some cultural traditions and norms that you might not understand otherwise.

As the world’s top immersive online Spanish school, Live Lingua is here to help you travel more intentionally and with a greater understanding of the world, through language.

When speaking, reading, and writing Spanish, you will find yourself more aware of what is happening around you as well as much more social and communicable even if you only know the basics of how to read and write in Spanish.

Let’s look at how to gain a basic understanding of a language before traveling.

Start with media

Live Lingua offers a free Spanish-learning podcast that covers the basics of everything related to travel, like shopping in a market and taking public transit.

Interaction and engagement is the key to enhancing just about any travel experience, and a podcast is one of the best ways to grasp this because you’re listening (and hopefully repeating) actual conversation.

To complement the podcast, we offer a totally free collection of learning resources like PDFs and audio files. This is called the Live Lingua Project, and it is the largest collection of free language-learning materials on the entire web. You can choose whichever language you want to learn from a list of 130 different languages.

Plus, this incredibly valuable resource even divides the list by different dialects depending on where you’re headed. Therefore, you won’t study Peninsular Spanish on your way to Mexico!

With thousands of free eBooks, audios and videos, you’ll have no trouble greeting others politely, ordering food and drinks, and asking for the restroom when you land at the airport – the 3 language skills you most need to survive!

Practice Word Association

Beyond the free courses, the main tip we can offer you is to work on work association. When you think of the word kitchen in Spanish, for example — cocina — what can you associate that work with to help you remember it?

Of course, word association is a big part of learning a bit of the language spoken where you’re headed. The best way to do this is through what’s called “Mnemonics,” memory systems (tricks) that allow you to retain and recall specific information with greater ease. This proves to be especially useful for language learning, as you can pair vocabulary words in your target language with a mental image of a similar sounding word in your native tongue.

For example, raupe in German means caterpillar. To remember this word, you may picture a caterpillar swinging from a rope.

Other mnemonic devices include using the first letter of each of the words in a list or sequence (think ROY G. BIV, the acronym used to recall the colors of a rainbow) or funny phrases, like one of my favorites from Spanish class years ago:

Every ‘-cion’ sings like Dion.  This tells us that words ending in ‘ción’ tend to be feminine and use ‘la’!

You can do the same for words and phrases in your target language before you travel, so they’ll be easier to recall when you’re abroad.

What to be conscious of

When speaking a foreign language on your travels, it is important to recognize major differences in the customs of how the language is presented. To use Spanish as an example once again, you’ll notice that there are both FORMAL and INFORMAL ways of saying many things.

in Spanish greetings, particularly in México, there are two words (and styles) for “you”, the formal form translates as “usted” and the informal form as “tú”.

The formal form of Spanish is a show of respect and it is used to address the elderly, business associates, individuals higher in rank, strangers, parents-in-law, and those who work in customer service such as a waiter or concierge. On the other hand, the use of the informal version of “you” denotes closeness and confidence on behalf of the speaker.

For instance, if you travel through Mexico you will soon find that it is easy to talk to strangers as you wait in the line, make small talk with the taxi driver or even exchange food reviews with the people dining on the next table.

Moreover, Mexicans are very open and willing to share their feelings and opinions, including their religious beliefs, political views, not to mention sports. However, as in most nations, these are sensitive topics so it is advisable to steer clear of those kinds of conversations.

Visitors who come from a cultural background where privacy is valued — such as British customs — may notice that Mexicans have an inquisitive mindset and feel extremely comfortable whilst discussing their private lives. Nonetheless, if you are not comfortable with it, don´t hesitate in saying “I´d rather not discuss that right now”. Most people will understand.

Try immersive language lessons with Live Lingua

Live Lingua’s native-speaking Spanish tutors are here to help you grasp the basics of travel Spanish terms and help you learn how to understand the cultural nuances of Latin America and Spain.

1-on-1 lessons via Skype or Zoom can really take your Spanish-speaking ability to the next level, and we’d love to show you how with a free trial lesson.

Head here to get started.


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