7 Tips for Learning the Basics of a Foreign Language
Travel makes a great excuse for learning a new language. With the help of a few language learning tips and tricks, you can learn the basics before you travel which makes it easier to communicate with the locals at your destination. Check out these 7 fun tips for brushing up on your language skills pre-travel.
1. Label household items
Grab a pack of Post-it notes and label as many items as you can around your home in the target language. When you use the item, say its name out loud in the target language.
2. Write a little “About Me” intro paragraph
Memorize a short “About Me” paragraph in your target language, so you can easily introduce yourself to a new friend and on the road. Google Translate can help you with any words you don’t know or can’t remember.
3. Listen to the country’s music
Check out the latest tunes in your target language by plugging into Shoutcast International. Search for the country you’ll be visiting, and listen to what’s on the air. Shoutcast lets you know the song most recently played; try Googling the song lyrics online at so you can sing along.
4. Watch foreign movies
Download a movie in the target language, with or without English subtitles. Here’s a list of the Academy Award winners and nominees for Best Foreign Language Film from 1947 to the present.
5. Join a local Meetup group
Most major (and even some smaller) U.S. cities play host to Meetup groups where you can practice your language skills with both native and non-native speakers. Search for a Spanish language Meetup group here; if French is on your to-learn list, find a local group here. There are also Meetup groups for less widely spoken languages, from Slovak to Swahili.
6. Take a language refresher course, in person or online
Sign up for a language refresher course at your local community college, cultural center, or online. Skype makes it possible to work with a private tutor from the comfort of your own home. Check out Verbal Planet and Live Lingua to practice your language skills with a tutor via Skype. Duolingo is another great on-the-go language learning app, and best of all, it’s free!
7. Download a language flashcards app
Practice your language skills while waiting at the doctor’s office or for the bus with a little help from your smartphone. The Flashcards+ app is allows you to easily create and study flashcards on your smartphone. You can also access tens of millions of decks of pre-made decks for free. Flashcards+ can even talk with a human voice synthesizer in 22 languages.
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