How to sharpen your language skills before your next trip | Best language learning tools
It’s not a mystery that speaking the language of your travel destination at least at a basic communication level is an incredibly valuable asset and can help you in many situations. It doesn’t mean that you need to become proficient and master the language in order to enjoy your journey – but being able to at least understand what people are asking you in various locations shouldn’t be underestimated. From personal experience I can admit it saves a lot of stress and concerns. As a polyglot who speaks 5 languages, I have tried many methods of learning, practicing and remembering useful words & phrases and now I am able to share with you the most efficient methods and best language learning tools that you can use to sharpen your language skills before your next trip.
If you’re trying to learn a language, but you’re not using Tandem – you are making a huge mistake. The ultimate best way to learn any language in the world is to interact with native speakers. For advanced levels it’s good to pay for conversation classes, but for basic skills you can refer to the free & entertaining alternative, Tandem App. The strategy behind Tandem learning is quite simple – you input your mother tongue and the language you would want to learn, and the app pairs you up with people who are natives from your outcome language and would love to learn your input language. While you text, you even have the possibility of correcting the mistakes written by other people easily, and they will correct you and your sentences in order for you to learn. You are completely free to choose with whom you want to talk, you can even select the preferences for the partner’s gender in order to avoid falling into the flirty side and focus on your main objective, which is learning the language. A peer to peer skill sharing is one of the ultimate ways of perfecting any skill and believe me, you don’t want to miss out on such a good opportunity.
Another free resource when it comes to best language learning tools you can take advantage of is the vast ocean of Spotify Language Podcasts. Independently of whether you have Spotify Premium or not, everyone can listen to the sessions available on the platform. Currently there are so many you can choose from that you can really personalize your experience to be fun and just like you want it to be. You like conversational language podcasts? Type “language + conversation” and dive into them. You prefer recordings that teach you the language step by step? Type “*learn + *language*” and opt for the one that inspires you the most. The possibilities are endless, and the positive side of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere, at any given time – some series have episodes of 5, 15 minutes, meanwhile others feature longer learning sessions of 45, 50 minutes. What you choose is really up to you and if you listen to them while concentrating, you’ll be able to pick up your basic necessary language skills even in less than a month.
Beelinguapp is one of my recent discoveries. If you like reading stories or books, it may become your favorite method of learning a language. How does it work? You choose a story that regards a topic you think fits the interest of what you want to learn in your outcome language and read it. If you can’t understand anything at first – no worries. The screen is half split, and under the story in your learning language, you can read the translation of that exact part in your language. It’s not bonded by time, so you can use as much time as you need to read particular sections – and there’s also a possibility to have it read out loud so that you can not only see how it’s written, but also how it’s pronounced and familiarize with the accent. I personally read at least one story a day (it takes me around 10 minutes) and I have noticed incredible results in the perspective of a few weeks. The majority of the stories is free like the app itself, however if you want to read more advanced readings, there’s a small subscription fee.
Just like practically anything else in this world at the moment, basic language level can be learnt from youtube, too. However, in order for this method to work, you should find one, single channel that will fit your needs and follow the consecutive videos to learn the language in a linear way. Why, you might ask, if there are so many different channels that you can choose from? Well, from experience I have noticed that it can create a chaos in your learning, jumping from topic to topic and duplicating content making you loose time or even explaining the same language rules differently leaving you confused in the end. I personally have one channel from which I learn my Finnish and one where I learn Arabic, and I couldn’t be more content with the amount of knowledge these youtubers gave me in comparison to regular, expensive language classes.
Songs can really be a great source of knowledge when it comes to the basics of the language, especially since modern songs mostly oscillate around common words and phrases. However, listening to them is not enough – you need to watch the lyrics and lyrics translation first to understand the meaning of the song. After that, you can listen to it as many times as you need, until the meanings get imprinted in your mind. With this method, the repetitions are really effortless since you’re basically listening to music; however you need to be careful with the choice of songs depending on the topic you want to learn the words & phrases in.
Old, but gold – the MP3 audio courses method is not dead. Technologically speaking, we have moved from carrying our CDs with recordings to being able to play our MP3 anywhere from the commodity of our phones or computers. The downside of this method is that most of the time you need to purchase these audio courses, making it not a free, however affordable. But I can assure you that it’s worth it – courses like these are made by real teachers who know how to present you with the right knowledge according to your level. So even though it’s not free, it’s still a method worth investing in.
TV SHOWS (Original language, no subtitles)
Yes – watching movies & TV shows is still a great option for learning a language. However, watching them with their original language and subtitles in your own, is simply not enough. Learning shouldn’t be completely effortless to bring long lasting results, so you need to focus: turn on the original audio AND original language subtitles and try understanding the conversations based on context. If you make it a habit, you will see the patterns between scenes in various shows and know when is it appropriate to say this, or when it’s appropriate to say that. It’s very hard at first – you might not understand anything from the first trial. But as you go on, it becomes more and more clear what they mean and eventually you’ll be able to retain the words, pronunciations and context in your memory for long term – as you’ll also be able to associate them with particular scenes.
Last but not least, it’s hard not to mention Duolingo as one of the best language learning tools. There’s a high probability you’ve heard about it and that’s why I put it as last. But if you didn’t – here’s how it works. You have linear mini classes dedicated to your path in the language – and every mini class consists of exercises, memo cards, gaps filling, matching and pairing words and more – everything that you need to learn your desired language. Duolingo is great if you’re planning a trip a little bit ahead and you have at least 2-3 months to learn the basics, but the good part is that you would need as little as 5-10 minutes per day to follow this method.
Which of these best language learning tools are you gonna choose? I trust you’ll make the right decision for your needs! Be consistent and you’ll feel more confident abroad, with your newly acquired skill being especially helpful in critical and emergency moments.
If you want to stick with me and follow me on my journeys, both those travel-related or simply language-learning, follow me on my Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial | Blog’s Instagram @ship.me.there | Pinterest @lenacorleone | Twitter @MilenaCorleone | BuyMeACoffee @milenacorleone.
I wish you a wonderful language learning routine!
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