Ever since it picked up at the beginning of the 20th century, the tourist industry has been booming ever since. People travel today more than ever, whether it be for business or for pleasure. This means that they come in contact with languages other than their mother tongue. If nothing else, then they at least have to learn how to speak proper English, the unofficial “world language.” For many, this is an obstacle and a downside of travel but their fear is unfounded. There isn’t a single impediment to learning new languages while on the road. In fact, foreign languages are best learned while staying in the country where they are spoken. Travel can be regarded as an excellent means of learning new lingos as there are several things you can do to improve your foreign language skills.
Give touristy spots a wide berth
The world of today is becoming ever more globalized so popular tourist destination are full of people from every corner of the globe. Which language are they likely to use to communicate among each other? Well, English or course. If you stay at the hostel or visit downtown pubs full of foreign tourists you are going to get exposed only to bad English spoken by non-native speakers. That is why you should get off the beaten track and go to a part of the city where locals like to hang out. Ask around the hostel where these parts of the city are and head straight there. Language acquisition of the desired language will not happen if you stay in the company of other tourists. Word of advice, do not go to dangerous neighborhoods that have high crime rates!
Pick your destination and transit countries
Whatever is your desired country, you are likely to travel to other ones to get to your destination. Plan this trip carefully and in accordance with your language preferences. If you are flying to Germany, for instance, you could plan a layover in Switzerland or Austria, as German is spoken in both countries. The same goes for South America, where almost all countries speak Spanish, so backpacking through them guarantees that you will return home with an excellent accent.
Make language a factor when choosing the college
Children who have lived for a certain period abroad have the advantage of speaking fluently two languages. If that is not the case with you, don’t get discouraged, as it is never too late to relocate to a foreign country for a couple of years. When the time for college comes, you can choose to study far away from home. Apart from getting an internationally recognized degree, you will have an opportunity to become fluent in another language. Even English knowledge can be improved this way if you enroll in an English College overseas. Furthermore, you will make new friends who can teach you a word or two of their mother tongue.
Devote time to self-study
Although a language is learned best through communication, you need to know some basics in terms of grammar and vocabulary. This is achieved by preparing well before you set off by learning the language at home or at a language school. There are both formal ways in which you can learn, like remembering verb conjugations by heart, and informal ones, such as listening (and dancing) to foreign music or reading book in the target language. You could read a book whose plot you already know in a foreign language to see how much you would understand. Finally, watching movies is also an excellent tool for learning a new language, unless they are dubbed, rather than having subtitles you can read off.
If you are finding it difficult to come up with the right motivation for learning a foreign language, then you can buddy up with someone who is passionate about language acquisition. Their motive to learn a new language will transfer onto you and in no time will you two start conversing to each other in a tongue other than your native one. If you can’t find anyone back home, perhaps you will meet someone in the country you are traveling to.
If you put into practice the pieces of advice provided here, your travels will become informal language classes. Each new destination will present a language challenge that you will be happy to tackle.