29 Jul THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD: LEARNING THE LINGO
After 26 months and 242 859km of non-stop travel, we have come home, aiming to package everything we’ve learnt into a practical and inspirational (and undoubtedly entertaining) guide for anyone and everyone wanting to do what we have done. In an attempt to give you a little taste of the course, we have created this blog series, entitled simply, “Things You Need To Know To Travel Around The World”.
Our first piece in the series: Learning The Lingo
Perhaps a good place to start, is to ask, “why?” Why do we need to learn a new language? Why (especially if you speak English – which we assume you do, as you are reading our blog – and English is spoken almost everywhere) do you need to put in the effort to learn a new way to order a coffee, ask for directions, or ask for a couple’s shot (because we’re tired of only having one of us in our photos)? Why can’t we just get by using Google Translate, tilting the screen to show the stranger what we want off the menu? Why should we put in the effort?
For one, learning something new should always be enough reason (if you disagree, read our post about how quitting your 9-to-5 leads to planning a 7-to-9, then come back and continue reading). We can also tell you honestly, that even with our English-speaking abilities, learning to speak the native language (even just a few catch phrases and polite words) will be the difference between an awkward situation, and one where you can actually make friends. You’ll immediately blend in, be able to laugh at jokes, and #truestory get invited to more networking events and Instameets.
After spending many months traveling in and out of Austria and Germany over the past two years, we took it upon ourselves to learn more. Learn how to wish our new friends happy birthday (so we could write it on their Facebook wall in their language), learn how to organize a trip into the mountains with them (so we could go adventuring knee-deep in snow), and learn how to order traditional Bavarian dishes (without the cream and butter, because vegan).
Now that you’re completely sold on why you should learn a new language (are you, are you?!) let us tell you how.
There are several ways you could go about it, and we’re going to highlight one of them here. The Rosetta Stone digital learning platform is definitely our choice for on-the-road language learning, for two main reasons:
1. We can do it anywhere, on any device with their new app or on desktop – no need to attend classes in a particular city (super convenient for us as we’re always on the move, so learning on our phones is best); and
2. We can use it anytime, without being connected to the Internet – unlike other digital learning platforms we’ve tried, Rosetta Stone allows you to download your lessons ahead of time, so you can learn even when you’re underground, on a train, or in a land where free Wi-Fi does not exist.
There are other reasons we like it – for example, the intuitive user experience of the Rosetta Stone app (so important in today’s want-everything-now-and-want-it-done-my-way existence) which makes for a fun learning experience. The recording capabilities and interactive ‘pronunciation’ teaching is better than other digital platforms we’ve come across, so it feels like you’re chatting with a real person, not a robot. As mentioned briefly already, you can also download (most of) the lessons for offline usage, so when connectivity is questionable (like when we’re hiking through the wilderness, or camping in the desert) we can still do our 10 minutes a day. Speaking of minutes, it also tells you how long each lesson will take, so if you know you have a 15 minute bus ride between home and the ice cream parlor in town, you can quickly brush up on your ‘Dining and Vacation’ vocabulary…and if said bus ride is cut short because most of the town is on holiday and traffic is light, then you can exit the lesson without losing the progress you’ve made (and just pick up where you left off once you’re comfortable and settled on the riverside bench eating your ice cream…or the next day, your choice).
Regarding the actual platform, and how it’s structured (if you’d like the details) – there are two sections, namely ‘Learn’ and ‘Extended Learning’.
The ‘Learn’ section is split into 20 Units, and inside each unit is 28-30 Lesson packages, normally made up of 4 overarching Core Lessons. To expand on that, the Units you’ll find in the German course (which we are advocates for) are things like ‘Language Basics’, ‘Emergency Situations’, and ’Profession and Hobbies’. Then in each of those you’ll find Lessons grouped under ‘Grammar’, ‘Vocabulary’, ‘Pronunciation’, ‘Speaking’ and ‘Listening’. You can pick and choose different Lessons, different Units – you’re not at all tied to a chronological order, so you are very much in control (although probably wise to start with the first Core Lesson before moving onto the second, then third etc). What is also quite fun, is once you’ve opened one of the Lessons, you’ll be led through the exercises, and at anytime you can exit to see your progress – you will see how many you’ve gotten correct, how many incorrect, how many you’ve skipped, and how many you haven’t seen, so, once again, you’re very much in charge #winning.
The ‘Extended Learning’ section is there if you are still feeling a little lingo frisky, and want more opportunities to learn and practice. There are three ways to use this section:
1. Audio Companion – this will playback some of the words you’ve learnt already in the ‘Learn’ section, and leaves little breaks of silence for you to repeat and say aloud what the App said. What’s cool, is that because you need to download each Audio Lesson, you’re able to use this entire section offline (for example when on the bus) and because it isn’t interactive, per se, it will continue with the audio even if you didn’t say the word out loud – because if you’re sitting on a bus talking to yourself like a weirdo…well, let’s just try and avoid that situation altogether.
2. Stories – just like school kids learning a language can listen to stories being read to them, you too can hear your new language strung together in a series of sentences. You follow along as the Story is read to you, the words are highlighted as they are read aloud (so you know where they are in the Story, and you can see how the words are spelt). There is also a record function, which lets you read aloud and record yourself reading (which you can then playback and compare to the pro). Also good to mention here that it highlights the words you’re reading as you’re reading them, so the listening technology here really is mint.
3. Phrasebook – this is the only section that is not available for offline usage, but it is one of the best sections, because all the Lessons are grouped and packaged together by popular scenarios that you will encounter, for example ‘Dining Out’, ‘Staying In A Hotel’, ‘Getting Around’, or ‘When Shopping’. All the phrases are accompanied with pictures (not the prettiest pictures, but hey, they tell the visual story) so you always understand what is going on. Once again, you will be able to record yourself (after listening to how the pro said it), and it’ll tell you if you said it wrong, allowing you to do it again before moving on to the next phrase.
Then the last thing we should mention is the price, because hey, nothing comes for free, right? Although in the past, Rosetta Stone’s program may have appeared slightly more pricey than the competitors, their recently-introduced subscription model now allows you to get 3-months of full access for $64 (and then as you subscribe to longer-term subscriptions, your per-month rate decreases, so it might actually be better to sign-up to a 6-, 12-, or 24-month subscription). But whichever package you choose, you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
We hope you enjoyed our attempt to convince-you-to-learn-a-new-language-because-learning-the-lingo-will-make-you-a-better-traveler post. If you’re ready to dive right in and sign up for Rosetta Stone, you can do so here (they currently have 28 languages available – including two versions of English and Spanish – so hopefully that caters for your upcoming trip.) You can also try a free demo if you’d like.
If you’re still unsure about where you’re traveling to, because you’re not sure you can in fact travel, because you think only rich and famous people can travel, then have a look at our Travel Around The World online course here, and let us take you through the entire process (so you can come join us on the road, regardless of your budget or travel dreams).
CC & SD