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10 Language Learning Tips for Holidays

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by Rayna (subscribe)
Law graduate with a passion for travel, photography and writing. Browse through some of my photography on:
Published November 17th 2012
Don't forget to pack your vocab list
Examples of phrase books and dictionaries

If you are going away and want to pick up a few phrases in a different language before you go, then take a look at some of these ideas. As we all have different learning styles, most of the points below combine visual, auditory and tactile methods. The great thing is you can pick and choose or mix and match the ones that interest you. Some points can be completed before you set off, whilst others are for when you return to help prepare for your next visit.

Before Departure

The points below will help you prepare before setting off.

1) Family fun
Going away as a family? Why not get together before you go and make up some creative games you can play for example make up a quiz game. Or even have a look at this BBC website for the Lingo Show an interactive website designed for young children.

2) You Tube
Youtube has many amateur videos where creative users have put together introductory language videos (the great thing is that they are free). As bizarre as it may sound, you can even search and listen to your favourite Disney song in another language. This style may not suit everyone but it definitely is an interesting approach.

Italian Menu
Italian menu written in Spanish
3) Phrase books
Phrase books and dictionaries are available from most books stores, such as Waterstones and WHSmith. You can even go for the cheaper option of buying online from eBay or Amazon. These can be used to memorise things before your holiday and are useful whilst on holiday. Why not make your own list of phrases you think you may need.

4) Phone a friend?
If you have a friends or family members who can speak another language, why not get some tips before going away.

Post-it Notes
Notes with 'hello' in different languages
5) Post-it notes
Write a few key words and phrases and stick them around the house and remember that this is all bit of light hearted fun. However, if post-it notes bring back bad school memories and make your holiday start to feel like an exam, then this suggestion can be ignored.

6) Listen to music in another language
Perhaps this is most easily done with Spanish music with the likes of Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and most importantly Enrique Iglesias. Researching and translating the lyrics could be another fun exercise.

Shakira's Album
Lyrics booklet from Shakira's album 'Sale el sol'

7) DVD Language options
Watch your favourite DVD in another language, okay, perhaps not the whole film, but just a chapter to familiarise yourself with the sounds of the language.

Upon Arrival and Return

The followings ideas will help you whilst you are at your chosen destination or once you have returned. Being abroad is a great opportunity to pick up languages as you will be exposed to the spoken and written form of the language. You can even continue learning when you get home; it is a great way to reflect upon your holiday and fight those holiday blues.

Leaflets from Spain
Leaflets, menus and maps saved from the last holiday trip
8) Leaflets and menus
When out and about, hold on to leaflets and even takeaway menus. These can be taken home and used to look up words and common phrases. If return to the same country for your break, you could set yourself a personal target to improve your language skills for next time.

9) Holiday snaps
Taking photos of signs and posters is a good idea for a short research exercise. Google translate is a great tool that can be used to help you.

Spanish Posters
Posters outside a Spanish Cathedral

10) Have a chat
Don't be afraid to talk to people, especially if you are in a tourist area. It will build your confidence and most people, such as cab drivers, are polite and will appreciate your efforts. And if you are lucky, they might even correct you so you know for next time.

You will notice that fortunately a lot of the above tips are free and can be incorporated in your daily routine at home (always a bonus). Some of the ideas can also be used to help you prepare for business trips.

Good luck!
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Why? Language skills for holidays
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Your Comment
nice tips!
by Joy (score: 3|1941) 3288 days ago
What great ideas! We did a European River cruise last year and although we found that most people can speak some English it is fun to learn a few phrases for the country you intend to visit and the locals do appreciate it when you can at least say a few words in the native tongue. We are visiting Italy as well as several other countries this year and I am just about to start on classes in Beginner Italian. Just the thing to keep my mind active!
by jillr1 (score: 1|48) 3287 days ago
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