We discussed in the previous post (“Learning a Language: However, Whenever and Wherever You Want It”) that the most important thing when learning a language is to be clear as to why you’re doing it, before seeking your best option.
In this case and in my opinion, learning a language for travel is one of the best reasons. Everything that it takes to plan a trip is totally rewarding. Choosing the country, the cities to go to and the places to visit. Everything is motivating.
As you are planning your trip and if time allows, learning the basics of the language of the country you’re travelling to can be very useful. Sometimes you think that a country’s guide book would be enough. Although that is important, nothing can compare to being able to communicate in the local language. It is very well received by the locals. It is a way of showing interest in the country and its people, and usually they are more willing to guide you or give you advice if you try to speak their language. If you interact with the people, you will probably end up having a completely different trip than what you expected.
As we already mentioned, there are plenty of options, but the system that caught my attention is called “Earworm”. Their creators advertise it as being a system of audio files that you can listen to anywhere. These are a series of repeated words and phrases with a catchy background music (like a commercial’s jingle) that manages to be impressed in your mind and thus, guaranteeing learning success.
I was very curious, so I downloaded the trial version: twelve lessons in twelve different languages.
At first I was quite disappointed. What you could hear were conversations between two people over a music background of reggae, pop, folk, and so on. I found it quite boring; I was expecting something totally different. Since I didn’t have the time to spend a few weeks and see if it would really be effective, I looked for comments from people who had done it and had the same first impression as I did.
Apparently many people were delighted with the system. It’s effective and it achieves its goal: for you to hold a basic conversation, ordering food in a restaurant, request some kind of hotel service or book a car, among other things.
Berlitz also sells this same system under its own name. It can be purchased online and it’s available in languages such as English, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese, among others. Some languages have two volumes: a basic level and an advanced one. They can be downloaded to your iPod or mp3 player. You can listen to it anytime, anywhere.
Obviously, this system should have a few more resources, but at least it’s a very good start, if you can take it.
I think it’s worth trying it so that you can judge it for yourself. At the end, if you are going on a trip, spending some time on this would be part of the fun.