Language learners dream of travel, meeting new people, and learning more about other cultures. But we only rarely get the chance to take life by the collar and say "I will DO this!".
For my podcast co-host Lindsay Williams, the dream of travelling the world became a reality last year as she set off to visit over 15 countries on a huge trip with her new husband. They called it the übermoon, and in today's podcast, Lindsay is going to reveal what one year of travel and language was really like.
Listen to the full show:
Lindsay's Top 5 Takeaways About Travel and Language Learning
1. Immersion Is Not The Quick Fix You Need
You have to be actively doing something else, like Lindsay's husband Ashley who started off strong learning Spanish and ordering food every day in Cuba...and then trailed off when conversation became less essential in Mexico. And remember, just because there are people walking around speaking your target language, they are not your teachers.
2. You Can Get By With Next To No Language Anywhere
The young modern traveller du jour is connected to technology and knows where she is going, booking, translating, and checking directions apps. So even in places where you don't know the language and English is limited with the locals, you can actually navigate better than ever before. Plus, people are always happy to communicate and so much can be said with hands, feet, and a smile.
As a result, you can get involved and travel with confidence, especially if you're an English speaker.
3. But It's Better With Even Just a Few Words And Phrases
We're not just talking "hello" and "thank you", but a handful of extra phrases. In Myanmar, Lindsay experienced the world-changing results of remarking "it's hot, isn't it?" and "it's really cold!" during the water festival. Who wouldn't point that out when it's 35 degrees outside and someone's pouring cold water on you!
4. Language is Warm
People open up to you and are beyond friendly if you are learning their language, especially when it is a smaller language and they don't expect that effort from a visitor. For example, in Paraguay Lindsay found that "I'm learning Guarani" was such a magical phrase that it led to whole families inviting her to stay at theirs for the weekend.
5. Don't Forget Culture!
A successful travel experience is not just about the language and the perfect phrase, because it matters to be in tune with local customs and culture. For example, in East Asia where saving face and staying calm and "demure" in public is extremely important, it is impossible to get annoyed when the bus is late or someone gave you wrong directiongs. Even in perfect Vietnamese your actions may still stick out and break your connections to other people.
Conclusion: It is helpful and polite to read up on etiquette in your target country.
Have You Travelled The World?
If you have taken a long trip to many countries or you dream of travelling the world one day, leave a comment below and tell us what you think of these language learning tips.