Travel Travel Tips

Language-Learning Tips for Your Next Big Overseas Adventure

  • Jun 28, 2024
  • 1 mins
learning languages for overseas adventure

Travelling to new destinations opens up a world of exciting experiences, and learning the local language is just one way you can enhance your journey.

Whether you’re (re-)visiting your favourite holiday destination or stepping foot into hidden gems off the beaten path, being able to communicate in the native tongue can help you navigate more easily, connect with locals, and fully immerse yourself in the culture and history of a place.

While overcoming language barriers can be challenging, with the right approach it can become an enriching part of your adventure. Join us for some beginner tips and advice for learning a new language and taking the first step to brave the unknown with confidence.

Starting your language learning journey with essential phrases and greetings is key.

Knowing how to say "hello," "please," "thank you," and "goodbye" can go a long way in demonstrating politeness, which is appreciated in any culture. For travellers, phrases like “How do I get to [place]?”, “Where is the [toilet/amenity/attraction]?”, or “How much is this?” are just as useful and applicable in your day-to-day interactions.

Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone are excellent resources for travellers starting their language learning from scratch. These platforms offer a variety of engaging and interactive practical language lessons tailored for beginners, making it easier to grasp the basics.

If you prefer something hardcopy, pop into your local bookstore and pick up a travellers’ phrasebook that’ll list the useful phrases and words you’re most likely to need to turn to. These books tend to be bilingual—providing both English and native translations—to make it easier for you to build a solid foundation for more advanced language skills as you progress.

Digital immersion is a powerful tool in language learning. Simply hearing a language regularly can increase your familiarity with it, and over time, you might find yourself recognising certain words, phrases, or even idioms here and there.

Follow social media accounts, podcasts, and YouTube channels in the target language to familiarise yourself with its sound and structure. This can include local influencers, language learning accounts, or any type of account in your target language even if it’s not travel-related.

If you’re not on social media much and don’t want to be, watching movies and listening to music or shows in the language can be just as useful. This not only aids in understanding but also provides insight into cultural contexts and colloquial expressions. Platforms like Netflix and Spotify offer a plethora of content in various languages, helping you learn in an entertaining and engaging way.

man looking at phone

Modern technology offers innovative solutions for language learners, making the language learning process immersive, efficient, and enjoyable.

Our advice for new learners? Embrace it. Apps like Google Translate and Microsoft Translator can translate visual or audio input in real time, assisting you in navigating new places, reading signs, and understanding menus. Language exchange meetups and apps such as Tandem or HelloTalk enable you to practise with native speakers, gaining confidence and fluency even before you leave for your destination.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of learning a new language, but they are also opportunities for growth.

When choosing a new language, it’s important to consider your personal goals and the language's difficulty level. Some of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers include Spanish, French, and Italian, which have similar alphabets and numerous resources available for learners. Conversely, difficult languages to learn, like Mandarin, Arabic, and Japanese, may require more time and effort due to their unique scripts and complex grammar structures.

Don’t be afraid to speak and make errors; it's through these experiences that you learn and improve. With dedication and the right tools, mastering any language is achievable.

Engaging with locals can help you overcome the fear of making mistakes. Remember, everyone (or almost everyone) appreciates the effort travellers put into speaking their language and bridging the communication gap, and most people are patient and willing to help when you’re struggling.

Interacting with locals is one of the most effective ways to enhance your language skills. Simple conversations can provide valuable practice and deepen your understanding of the local culture. Consider joining short language courses or workshops available for travellers. These immersive experiences can accelerate your learning and make your trip even more memorable.

couple on tuktuk

6. Keeping the Momentum Post-Trip

Returning home for travels doesn’t mean your language learning journey has to end.

Continue practising to keep your skills sharp and prepare for future adventures, expeditions, and explorations. Join language clubs or online communities to stay connected with the culture and maintain your proficiency – and you might even make some penpals along the way! These activities not only enhance your language abilities but also keep the excitement of your travel experiences alive.

Just as learning key phrases prepares you for novel interactions in a new country, travel insurance is important as it protects you from unexpected travel disruptions such as travel delays, trip cancellations and more. By having this financial safety net, you can travel worry-free.

Comprehensive single-trip or annual travel insurance plans, like those offered by Income Insurance, cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost belongings, and more, so you can focus entirely on your adventure even when mishaps or misadventures occur. Benefits such as up to S$2,0001 travel delay coverage, up to S$2,0001 baggage delay coverage, coverage for adventurous activities2, and more.

If you’re planning for the voyage of a lifetime, consider purchasing travel insurance so you can protect your adventures abroad.

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