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How to get a crash course in a new language


Your flight to Barcelona is in just three days and you still don’t know how to ask where the loo is in Spanish? Never fear, SUSAN CRAIG says you can get the gist of a language before boarding. 

 

Travelling may be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it inevitably takes us out of our comfort zones and inherently breeds challenge. 

 

Top of the list is getting around a foreign city where you can’t communicate. So here are some practical tips on how to learn a new language fast.

 

USE LANGUAGE LEARNING APPS AND ONLINE PLATFORMS

Arranging a class with a teacher in three days may sound like an impossible task, but with a little bit of magic (or the Internet), it’s really not such a big deal. 

 

Feeling like you need a couple of French conversational classes before hitting the City of Love? Voilà! Your flight to Berlin is in two days but you forgot everything you learned about Plusquamperfekt? Put the grammar book aside. Instead, download an app and get a quick introduction to German tenses in a playful light-hearted way.

 

CHANGE THE LANGUAGE OF YOUR DEVICES

The most effective way to prepare for the journey fast is to immerse yourself in a language  while you're still at home. And since most of us are surrounded by operating systems, applications and programs in our everyday life, try to do so by switching all your devices to the target language.

 

Doing so will bring the atmosphere of the destination country to your home and will prepare your mind for a new linguistic experience. Who knows? When you land, you may even recognise a couple of words!

 

PLACE NOTES ALL OVER YOUR HOME AND OFFICE

If your roommates and colleagues don’t mind, start labelling furniture, devices, food, and other stuff around you. Using sticky notes is an old but extremely useful trick that will help you gain the necessary vocabulary in a short period of time.

 

Starting with the contents of your fridge and ending with your wardrobe, put labels everywhere you can and soon those words will be stuck in your memory.

 

WATCH MOVIES AND TV IN YOUR TARGET LANGUAGE

There are actually two ways to handle this: you can either pick some new foreign shows or just download subtitles to your favourite ones. 

 

The first way works best if your language level is already pretty high, whereas the second one fits for everyone. Just choose a series that you’ve seen so many times that you can quote the lines and add subs.

 

Not only does it help learn a language quickly, but watching Seinfeld in Croatian is hilarious. 

 

READ FOREIGN MEDIA

And the last piece of advice — check out foreign news portals and media before the trip. It will help you not only expand vocabulary but stay tuned for upcoming events in the country you’re visiting.

 

Learning a language and planning your journey, all in one!

 
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Written by: Susan Craig
Published: 6 November 2019

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