Learning a language for travel? I can't think of a much better reason to learn a
language. The whole point of learning another language is to be able to
communicate with other people, some of whom may not be able to understand your
language. Even if they do, it still helps to improve communication between
people. Travel exposes us to new lands, new people and new cultures with a
history and a view of the world very different from our own.
You may be travelling on business, you may be visiting relatives living in other lands or just taking a vacation and seeing the world. Learning a language for travel can begin with just a few greetings and phrases or you can progress to a more 'survival vocabulary' level. If you really like, you can go ahead and spend months or years really studying the language. In any case, if you find you like speaking and learning the language, you can always expand on this knowledge and further your study.
Or, how about learning the language while you travel. It may never have occurred to you, but there are lots of programs and courses for travellers who want to learn the language in the country you are going to. For more information on language learning vacations click here.
Let's say you are taking a trip to Argentina. Let's say it's a two week vacation. Buenos Aires is a big modern city, don't they speak English anyway? Is it really worth studying a language for just a two week vacation? What advantages will learning Spanish give you?
Travel is easier when you know the language. Every step of your vacation will be made easier if you know at least some of the language. Customs agents, taxi drivers, in hotels, restaurants and shops. All will be just a little easier if you know some Spanish. Some phrases you will use every day like "how much is that?" or "I would like ..." or "where is ... ." You will certainly feel a little more at ease if you are caught in a place where no one speaks English. And don't be fooled, there are lots of those places, even in a big modern city like Buenos Aires.
Travel is more fun when you know the language. It's just more enjoyable when you try using some of your new language. That's part of the adventure of travelling to other countries. It's more fun for you and for the people you are visiting. Maybe people are nice to foreigners in Argentina, but anywhere you go in the world you will always get a little better reception when you make some effort to learn their language.
Learn the language to understand the culture. Travel abroad gives us a window into another culture and a different view of life. You know this, maybe that's part of why you're going there. But won't you get a much better understanding of their culture when you speak the language? You're not planning on watching a documentary about Buenos Aires or Argentina on the Travel Channel, you're actually going there. You will learn so much more about the people and culture and from the people and culture just by knowing some Spanish.
Social contacts. Knowing the language will get you a better reception and maybe in a few doors you might not have otherwise. You may make a few friends or business contacts on your trip. And how about the night life in Buenos Aires? Speaking Spanish will certainly help you have a better time and meet new people. By adding a new language, you not only make this trip better, you may be opening up opportunities for yourself for many years to come!
Additional travel opportunities. Learning some of the language before you go gets you some obvious advantages during your trip. But suppose you like it so much you want to go back? Great! Now you have a head start on Spanish and you can study some more and advance your knowledge for your next trip to Argentina! And that's not all. Now, you also have the ability to communicate with people throughout South America, Central America, Spain and even millions in the US. Now travel to Spain or Chile or Mexico is easier for you as well as going back to Argentina. Learning one language has made travel to dozens of new destinations easier.
Work abroad. Are you considering moving to Argentina? Maybe this isn't just a vacation, maybe you are interviewing for a job there. Obviously, working abroad will require you to learn the language. Possibly not at first, but in the long run certainly. Make a better impression and get a head start by learning some Spanish before you take that trip.
Study abroad. Maybe you are considering studying in Buenos Aires. While there may be English language schools abroad, and you know you will be studying the local language when you get there, you are definitely better off beginning to learn the language before you go.
Retirement abroad. Is retirement in Argentina a possibility? More and more people are retiring in communities outside their home country. Sometimes it is financialy a good idea. Learning the language will get you a better understanding of the people and the environment. If you plan to spend many years there, then get started learning now!
Ok, maybe you aren't going to Argentina. Maybe your destination is China, or
Italy, or Russia, or India or any of hundreds of other possible places. Just
about anywhere you go it will benefit you to learn the local language. Learning
a language for travel will broaden your horizons and present you with a growing
list of opportunities for your future, adding a valuable life skill in the
process. If you're unsure about how to start learning a new language, go to the
How to Learn Languages page for a basic guideline, or the Language Learning Methods page to begin selecting materials to start learning.
- Robert Charles Benchley