City breaks abroad give you a reason to learn a language. A little language can go a long way for you professionally and personally – a few small phrases in another language can build relationships, confidence and even careers.
This blog gives a few tips to help you to make the most of your city break abroad.
BEFORE YOU GO:
If you’re a beginner:
Learn the basics – introductions, ordering food……. The BBC languages website is great for this.
Get a phrase book or a bilingual dictionary.
Take group or one-to-one language classes.
Learn some useful set phrases e.g. ‘can you speak more slowly please’, ‘please could you repeat that’, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand’, ‘I only speak a little X’.
If you have some knowledge:
Set a newspaper from your destination country as your home page. It may give you ideas for a conversation with a local while on holiday.
Watch Euronews TV live in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, or search for “Euronews live in X language” for other languages. Compare the story with the English version.
Anticipate situations and plan conversations e.g. hotel reception or restaurants.
Get a bilingual dictionary, a grammar book and a grammar practice exercises book.
Take group or one-to-one language classes, or do a language exchange with a native speaker.
Listen to music in the language – get the lyrics from the CD cover or YouTube, learn song words and practise singing them (excellent for your pronunciation!). For example, I always listen to Flossie Malavialle’s French CDs before going to France.
A little language goes a long way – both on holiday and in the workplace
DURING YOUR TRIP:
Speak the language. Everyone in that country can be your teacher!
Take a notebook with you to write down language you need.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep a good sense of humour. Laugh when you are misunderstood.
Noticing – notice not just what people say, but how they say it.
Don’t expect to understand every word - aim to get the gist of a conversation, not every word.
Step out of your comfort zone – do things you wouldn’t normally do, e.g. try out a local custom.
Be open to the different culture - see the positives, seek to understand the values behind the behaviours. Be curious not judgemental.
Prepare for your next trip - bring a magazine or music CD home, so you can keep in contact with the language when you get home or as preparation for next trip.
WHEN YOU COME HOME:
Show understanding and empathy when you meet non-native speakers of your language at home.
If you have the time and continued motivation to learn the language, keep it up.
If you do not have the time, get back to life until you book your next city break!
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” (Miriam Beard).
What changes have you experienced by using another language during your city break?
I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and I welcome your feedback.
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