Language and Travel

I am not sure about you but one of my main motivations for learning languages is travel. While it’s fine to use the language online or have a pen-friend (I’ve never really had one), what’s the use of knowing a language if you never actually speak it?

Speaking a language in its country is pretty awesome, though. I have tried speaking the language  (in probably that order in time)  in Germany (I speak poor German), France, Italy (Italian not too good either), Portugal, Spain (all my Spanish knowledge is coming from my Portuguese), The Netherlands (I don’t really speak Dutch) and Poland (I don’t really speak much either although my Russian knowledge helps a little bit). Every time it’s been fun. This one guy also talks about how traveling is free (well, I don’t know, I ended up paying heaps and bounds; although I like his quote “Time is not money. Time is free. You have all the time in the world.”).

Have you wondered how good traveling can be for language learning? I’d say, not very good.

Obviously, not all traveling isn’t good. I’d say, passing by isn’t good (which is probably most of the traveling that people do).  I have noticed that you can probably get away with English in most situations, if not all, and since you usually want to get things handled (i.e. I care more to get onto the next train than to practice my German), you resort to speaking English. Also you usually meet other travelers if you are staying at hostels or hotels so you also speak English to them. All in all, you have to be good in the language if you want to use it effectively while you are traveling. Then it’s fun.

Then there’s another kind of traveling which actually a lot more with language learning. That’s traveling with prolonged stays. If you stay more in one place, you can hang out where the natives do and you don’t have to rush and you can learn the language way easier. I think you can learn a language during those stays and, I’d say, it’s probably one of the most effective if not the ultimate most effective way to learn a language if you do it right. I have told you how I have learnt Portuguese in 5 months. I know a guy and a lady who have learnt German in 5 and 3 months respectively (well, she is Dutch, though).

That is not to say that traveling isn’t fun. It is. I love it. I want to do a lot. I am just saying that if you really want to use it, you better stay in places longer (at least a few months or so; I’d say 6 is ideal if you do it right). So, it’d be great to get more opinions on this:

Do you use traveling for language learning? What are your traveling plans? What do you think is the perfect time to stay to learn a language? Tell me.

P.S. I got asked to include this by Joachim who teaches German via Skype. You may want to have a look:

Learn German online with your private tutor – only native-speaking teachers from Germany – proven course design – ideal for those who travel a lot and need an individual education plan – talk more, learn faster, experience your learning success with

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1 comment

  1. Very well written article. It is very important to learn foreign languages now especially for this particular reason, “travel”. Nowadays people prefer to go to other countries for higher studies and career opportunities. So I think the perfect time to stay to learn a language is to start learning from the childhood regarding their future plans.
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