I’m pretty bad at languages but I love the process of learning them and think knowing at least a second or third is so important – especially for travelers. Cognitive and professional benefits have been pretty well documented, but benefits when traveling are harder to quantify since it really depends on the person and circumstances.
From my own personal experience, I can say the greatest benefit from speaking the language or even knowing the alphabet of a place where I am visiting is much more than just making sure I can order the food I want or knowing what street I am on. It’s hard to describe and you can only ever truly get it once it happens, but it’s like opening a door into another world. How wide it opens and how far in you go depends entirely on your skill level, but whatever the case, it enables you to see places in such a different way.
There are tons of resources on the internet about how to learn a language so I am not even going to try to get all professional and go there, just going to leave you with a few of my own personal tips in case you are interested. Gypsy tips tried and tested by me for all you other language learners and lovers out there.
Move to a foreign country
This is absolutely the best way to go if you have the means and motivation to do so. There’s no better and faster way than complete immersion and keep in mind – the more foreign aka the less people who speak your native language, the better. I should be beyond fluent in Swedish if 90% of Sweden didn’t speak English, and better than me at that. Right now I classify myself as just “OK”. On the other hand, spending several months in Ukraine was so helpful for improving my Russian. Even though all my friends spoke English really well, just taking the bus or going to the grocery store was an intense and often trying lesson.
Find a foreign lover
Get involved with an international man or woman of mystery – that’s also a surefire way to pick up a foreign language fast. Surely you’ll want to blow them away with your skills and also understand what they are saying when they’re talking to their friends..yeah?
Send foreign messages
After I had a pretty good grip of the language, I tried to start sending text messages only in Swedish. In an effort to not forget it while I was away in Ukraine, I even started doing the same via Facebook messages/comments. For me this helped tremendously because I remember more once I’ve seen it written.
Watch (or just listen to) foreign movies and television series
Watching movies in a foreign language is a great way to improve your listening and pronounciation. I’m not a huge fan of sitting and watching movies but I will throw a good Russian or Swedish one on in the background or as I am falling asleep sometimes just to listen to.
Find some dope foreign tunes
Yet another cool way to improve your pronouncition and listening. My advice is find a song you like and translate the lyrics. Slowly but surely you’re going to understand it all and be able to easily mimic words or short phrases. Just make sure it’s not too inappropriate.
Get tipsy with foreigners
If you don’t drink, this one might not be for you but I you enjoy a good glass or five of something delicious and potent, why not use that to your advantage. All kinds of barriers can be broken after you’ve had a few. Not only does it help you loosen up and become more confident, but you are also more likely to acquire vocabulary and important phrases not found in your average language text book.
What methods do you use when trying to get sexy at a language?