Language: An indispensable tool for traveling

May 19, 2016

GUEST POST FOR LANGUAGE TSAR

In recent years, the need to be able to communicate fluently in a foreign language has been established in our society as an enabler to access the labour market. To express oneself fully, without feeling self-conscious in a language other than our first language can open doors to new jobs, generally better remunerated, in which to develop our capabilities and thus cultivate a successful career. This is usually the main reason that each year, schools and academies around the world fill their classrooms with students eager to acquire key language skills that will assist them in achieving their career goals.

Nevertheless, there are also other more recreational but equally valid reasons that must not be forgotten as they also drive a large number of people towards learning other languages. Tourists, adventurers and culture lovers often approach language learning from a pragmatic perspective; to facilitate their traveling and get the most out of their visits abroad.

A trip is an unforgettable experience. Facing what’s new and unfamiliar makes our enthusiasm flow and often traces us back to childhood stages instead of those more appropriate of adulthood. Armed with our cameras we want to capture those special moments that happen in our travels. A building, a landscape, a work of art, an exotic meal, a smile … But a trip is also an adventure that can lead to unforeseen situations in which our idyllic experience can be jeopardized by the language barrier.

Bosque Alemão Curitiba

The beautiful Bosque Alemão (German Woods) in Curitiba, Brazil

Bad experiences could be avoided or turn into mere anecdotes, if we were able to communicate in the language of the country where we are. Losing documentation and having to report this to the police, feeling indisposed and having to explain to a doctor what is wrong with us, getting lost and asking how to get back to the hotel or how to get to a particular address are very frequent situations when traveling. In those cases, we can probably miss not to be able to communicate effectively with our interlocutor rather than perhaps having to resort to the always useful hand gestures.

Not even prior planning can foresee some of the above situations or similar ones that may arise. These setbacks can be daunting and can turn any trip into an unpleasant experience. This would not be such if having some basic knowledge of the local language.

Moreover, knowing the language(s) spoken at our destination also gives us many other advantages to make the most out of our trip. It allows us to connect to and interact with local people, to engage in conversations and to learn more about their culture, enjoy local music, better understand their traditions and customs, try local cuisine and it’s cooking methods. In other words, it allows us to abandon the role of spectator to become an active player and the main protagonist of our trip.

Office London

Using languages for travel is the cornerstone of the multilingual travel lifestyle promoted by the creator of Language Tsar, Conor Clyne

Some people may argue that this approach to traveling is expensive and time consuming, at least in terms of the cost of learning a language and the effort it entails.

But we are not referring to mastering all aspects of a language or being absolutely fluent. On the contrary, all is needed is a basic level, sufficient to help us make the most of our trip, as mentioned earlier. To achieve a basic level can be easy, fast and affordable.

In preparation for the trip, we recommend spending a couple of months learning or practising the local language. Being aware that it will not lead to a master level but it will provide us with useful knowledge and essential tools to use at our destination. To achieve this, there are numerous educational tools and learning materials.

Specialized online courses organized by competence level can be a good option. An A1 level course that is well designed can provide the basic language skills to communicate at a basic but effective manner. A similar result can be achieved learning through teachers. In this case, it is important that classes are taught through language immersion and following a 1-to-1 format. With this, students become familiar with the foreign language from the first day and the teacher can design lessons according to the student needs. Both methods are equally effective, it is student preference and availability that makes choose one over another.

We encourage all our readers and students to try this form of travel-based language learning.

Read this article in Spanish (B2/C1 Level) here.

Julio A. Carballeira
Fundador y Director de estudios
Escuela Internacional de Español Siglo de Oro

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