Those interested in language learning are no longer asking ‘if ‘ they will travel abroad, the question has instead become ‘where‘. Recent research has indicated that language learning is a growing concern for individuals planning to travel abroad in any capacity. We dug deeper to understand why beginning your language learning journey is important. So before you head off on your next adventure read this piece.
No matter where you’re from, where you’re located now, and where you hope to travel next, deciding to learn a new language can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. You’ve made the brave decision to add a language to your linguistic roster, but some questions may remain. How should you go about learning a new language, what tools can you use and which are most effective? Perhaps the most important question of all, when should you go about learning a new language?
If you’ve decided to learn a language for future travel plans, we have the answer to the last question. Get learning before you take off, there’s really no time like the present! We all know that learning a language is an immersive learning experience. However, mastering the basics before you set off on your travels is of critical importance. It decides how you experience your time abroad.
A recent survey from educations.com has revealed that of 33,000 students surveyed, a staggering 31% of respondents said that language learning was a top priority when choosing their study abroad destination. Of those who cited language learning as their top priority, almost one-fifth were going abroad specifically to learn a language. Whether you are a university student or a working professional, becoming a student of the local language in your next travel destination before you board that plane will play a key role in your travel abroad experience. Let’s find out why!
Make Yourself Understood
It would be a big ask, (and quite unlikely) to make fluency your language learning goal pre-travel. But, having at least some basic competency in the local language will help you make yourself understood. From the get-go, acclimatize much faster to local customs, and avoid making non-verbal language faux pas. Given the huge differences in the meaning of body language across cultures, arming yourself with some key phrases and basic verbal communication tools can be a huge help to avoid using possibly offensive body language.
Furthermore, getting a linguistic grip can even be a question of safety. Travelling abroad is on its surface an escape from your day-to-day life at home, but whether you suffer from food allergies, are driving for the first time in a new country, or need to communicate with the nearest authorities, knowing how to at least make yourself understood to locals can be an important tool when it comes to ensuring that your travels are an overall positive experience!
Getting out of Your Comfort Zone
Solo and group travelers alike tend to gravitate towards people who speak their language while being abroad. Being away from home, especially for extended periods of time can bring about any number of complicated feelings. It’s only natural to want to communicate with those who understand you on a native level.
However, if you’re travelling to get a ‘real’ taste of what a country is really like, speaking the language is the most effective and direct way to dip your toe into to the many complexities that local cultures can offer you as a traveler, and put yourself out of your comfort zone by communicating with locals. If you can make yourself understood, finding out how to get ‘off the beaten path’ is as easy as asking someone in their language.
Tourist attractions of course have their value, but asking locals how to get to that restaurant or scenic destination that they frequent will likely give you a significantly different perspective than sticking to the status-quo tourist area built for travelers. Self-confidence can play a huge role when it comes to trying out your previously-learned language skills, but taking the plunge will illustrate to locals that you’ve taken the time to begin getting acquainted with their country, language, culture and customs.
By pursuing language learning before you travel, you’ll already have achieved a degree of comfortability. You can achieve linguistic skills by speaking with natives. That definitely means getting out of your comfort zone, but it’s worth it.
Language Learning Doesn’t Have To End With Travel
Language learning is an important aspect of travel and tourism. However, the skills you pick up learning a language before you travel, give you a competitive career advantage. The skills you develop towards fluency while you’re travelling abroad, just add to it. Employers around the world are continually reporting languages like Mandarin Chinese, French & German as an employability factor. You can bring a positive change in your life by making the simple decision of learning a language.
Max Maccarone is a content editor for the higher education portal educations.com. Originally from Canada, Max relocated to Stockholm after graduating from York University in Toronto. An avid traveler, Max is dedicated to creating engaging learning and development content for a wide range of publications.