It really does pay to be prepared when it comes to speaking the local language on holiday. You’ll feel ten times more confident about giving new phrases a whirl if you’ve had plenty of practice at home. So, start researching some of the common sentences you’ll need in the weeks leading up to your holiday, according to your destination. Phrase books are great for this, but it’s better to hear words being spoken out loud to get your head around pronunciation. Check if you have a TV channel or radio station in the language of the country you’re visiting – you’d be amazed how different things sound when spoken in the native tongue. Or consider buying some language CDs, or downloading a spoken app or some podcasts. Whatever your method, give yourself lots of time to get to grips with keywords and phrases, so you know them like the back of your hand.
How many of us go all-out on our quest to learn a new language, then give up when we realise it’s going to take a bit longer than planned? Start small, with everyday words and phrases that you say all the time – like ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ – and try to use them in the run-up to your holiday. If you’re going to Italy and you’ve got an Italian deli around the corner, see it as an opportunity to put your fledgling skills to the test.
If you really want to go beneath the surface of another language, the best place to do it is in your destination. Book a hotel that offers language classes and you can learn a new set of phrases in the morning, then go and test them out for real in the afternoon. Your language skills will come on leaps and bounds because you’ll be completely immersed in the culture of the destination you’re visiting. Try hotels like Dreams Playa Mujeres in Mexico and Mayor Verde Grand Resort in Corfu, for starters.
Anyone with kids knows how quickly they seem to soak up new skills – including learning a new language. Get them involved in the process by teaching them select words and phrases on holiday, which will help to embed the words in your own memory, as well as making things more fun – they’ll love asking the waiter for their own drinks, for example. If you want to give them a head-start at home, take a look at startups like One Third Stories, who are changing the way children learn languages. Their new story books start in English and gradually morph into a second language of your choice, so your brood won’t even realise they’re learning something new.
A phrase book or app can be a great starting point if you’re stuck, or a bit of a confidence-booster if you’re feeling nervous. There are plenty of language learning apps to choose from – Duolingo is free and really popular, and Memrise is designed for visual learners. Google’s app, iTranslate, is ideal for on-the-spot translation. And if you’re really struggling, or just want something that doesn’t rely on batteries, Lonely Planet has just released a flash card-style book called Just Point, filled with little pictures to point at if you’re truly desperate. You’re welcome.
Plan your next holiday now and prepare to put your new-found language skills to the test.
Author: Katie Gregory
Settle down to a Spanish lesson at , on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. This brand new hotel is all about luxury – from the three infinity pools to the unlimited à la carte dining set-up.
Greek language lessons are on the cards at the Mayor Verde Grand Resort, an adults-only property that looks out over sandy Aghios Gordios Beach on the island of Corfu.
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