Looking for ways to make your travel hassle-free? Aside from strategically packing your luggage, choosing the best accommodation, systematically booking a great fare, and creating a bulletproof itinerary, there is one essential thing that you must also focus on and this is… learning a language. Being linguistically prepared with the native language of the place you will visit allows you to have a better chance at authentically connecting with the locals and expressing yourself with clarity. While it has been reported that there are about 70+ countries in the world speaking English, it is only by conversing using their native language that you will get to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings.
According to some of the pro travelers, one of the biggest reasons why you should master at least the basic words and phrases is for you to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Since you will have confidence in speaking or greeting other tourists and the locals, you’ll easily blend in with the crowd and you will not look like a clueless tourist. And as reported time and time again, there are people who will rip off foreigners by asking them to pay almost 3 to 5 times higher than the local prices! Somehow, the locals take the language barrier as a way to make more money out of you. And of course, we do not want that, right?
To help you as you prepare for your trip, we are listing below the top 5 expert tips that will trick your brain into mastering a new language fast.
Set up a SMART goal
Have you ever experienced listing down a number of goals only to find out that those are impossible to reach in real life? Trust us… you only need to focus on one goal at a time.
As used in the fields of medicine, education, entrepreneurship, and psychology, setting up a SMART goal can seriously help you in achieving success in the soonest possible time. It is basically a mind tool that will teach you how to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal entries.
For instance, if you’ve only got at least a month before you fly out to China, it wouldn’t be wise to spend the whole month learning about grammar and all the characters and grammar rules! Instead, why not try to focus on mastering words and phrases in Cantonese like thank you, hello, how much, and the such. Not only will the knowledge in these allow you to interact right away, but it also makes sure that you can develop full confidence in uttering each.
Focus on memorization
Contrary to common belief, memorization is truly important before immersing yourself in the target language. As research shows, this is considered the first step to understanding and it aids in ensuring that you get to associate what you have learned with something that makes sense to you. For instance, other language learners learn Japanese characters better by using visual and text mnemonics or even acronyms.
Another thing to note is that you do not have to spend countless hours memorizing everything. Depending on how much time you still have before you fly out to the country, you can start by learning cognates, commonly used words and phrases, slangs, and the basics of grammar to combine what you have learned into a sentence that makes perfect sense.
Download language learning applications
According to experts in the field of language learning, mobile apps play a significant role in acquiring a language. So, whether you still have a month or you are already flying out in the next few hours, you can never go wrong with learning the basics by using a fun learning app. What makes applications an interesting tool is that most of them are free and are compatible with both old and new mobile devices. In addition to that, they are created differently which means that using different apps all at once can help you unlock more features and challenging quizzes to strengthen your understanding.
Learning through an interactive language app can certainly motivate you to learn especially for languages using different scripts and alphabet. Popular brands such as Duolingo, Ling App, Memrise, and Busuu, also add in spaced repetition in order to ensure that you’ll get to really master and encounter learned words as you progress in your target language. Let’s say that in the first lesson you learned how to say thank you in Cantonese, instead of just crossing this phrase in your “to learn” list these apps will make sure that you get questions related to it while learning the third or even fifth lesson. In short, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll get to review everything!
Get a conversation partner
If you still have a few months left and you have been trying to teach yourself the language, researchers suggest that it would be wise to have a language exchange partner where you’ll be able to practice. Based on what your target is, you do not really have to hire a full-time language tutor, especially if you are just traveling for a short period. Instead, what you can do is look for groups on social media and perhaps connect with a buddy who would be interested to learn your language too. BY doing this, you’ll get to have a low affective filter and learn from each other without having to feel scared of being judged. After all, you are both just language learners motivated to reach a certain level of fluency.