7 Top Tips To Learn Language Basics Before Holiday

Would you love to be able to learn some of the local language for holiday? Most people I have asked agree but either find it too difficult or are too embarrassed to try. Here are a few top tips to get you started.

Take it easy on yourself

One of the most important things to remember when learning a new language is not to expect too much when you start. Many will pick up a book and get very frustrated when then can’t speak the next day.

Getting to grips with the basics takes time. Ideally you should start a few months before. This will give you plenty of time to practice with as little as 15 minutes a day.

Try to immerse yourself in the language a little by watching YouTube videos. This will also help with your pronunciation as you will see and hear the language being spoken by a native speaker.

Buy a phrasebook

Phrasebooks are an excellent way of picking up holiday basics. Many people buy these when they arrive and then try to speak directly from the book. Buy this up-front and practice the phrases you find important.

Lonely Planet do an excellent range of phrasebooks at a reasonable price so are a very good starting point if you are not sure what to buy.

Try to keep it specific

Learning a language is a huge undertaking. Many courses focussing on the basics will have language that is just not relevant to you while travelling. I mean, how many conversations will you get in to where you have to ask “How many brothers and sisters do you have?”. It is true, you might, but there are a lot of phrases that will be more important to you before you get to that point.

Try to think about where you are going and what you will be doing. This will give you a good focus on what you need to learn.

Get your family involved

If you are not going to be travelling alone, great, you have a partner to practice with. If you have kids, even better! Learning a language can be a fun activity and kids normally take to this with a lot of gusto.

I still remember my kids learning to count in Spanish, they would compete with each other and see who can do it the quickest. I constantly got asked “Dad, how do you say….?” – this prompted me to learn more too.

Once on holiday, you can keep this going by taking turns to order food or asking for directions.

Install some apps on your phone

If you like to play games on your phone then this one is for you. Install a couple of language apps. Duolingo, MosaLingua or Memrise are good choices if they have your language. If not, just do a quick search online, you will find loads.

Instead of playing your usual games, use your new language one instead. You’ll rack up loads of practice without even realizing it.

Sign up to a podcast

Another great way to learn is to sign up to a podcast. These allow you to pick and choose your lessons and only focus on the language you really wish to learn.

Quick tip: don’t just listen, repeat what you hear. If you speak as you learn, it won’t sound alien to you when you say it for the first time and you are less likely to get embarrassed.

Innovative Language have a great podcast that you can sign up to in one of 34 languages and it’s pretty cheap. Even cheaper if you use this 50% offer.

Take a couple of lessons

Taking lessons in the language you want to learn is always a fantastic idea. You should only need a few but can continue if you think you need more practice. This will help you to use the language you have learned.

You can easily do this at home, and very cheaply through Skype. I use iTalki for all of my lessons as I can get a native speaker to teach me from as little as $5 a lesson. Use this link and to get buy one get one free on your first lesson.

Have you tried to learn a language before for holiday? Let me know in the comments how it went.


As well as travelling and blogging on Always Enough Time, Gary also runs the Language Learning Library and Language Learning Resources Facebook group for aspiring language learners.

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About me

Hi, I'm Gary. I didn't start travelling until I was 37, always finding excuses on why I couldn't go, never making the time... and then I did.Now I love to travel the world with my partner Alexis, I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.I've started blogging as I go, giving hints and tips to anyone who will listen.


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