Advertising
Advertising

5 Hacks to Pick Up a Foreign Language While Travelling

5 Hacks to Pick Up a Foreign Language While Travelling

Learning a language on the ground is often referred to as the immersion method because you are living, feeling, and breathing the new language. The immersion method is useful. But, just because you are travelling does not mean you are immersed enough to pack fluency in your suitcase.

Learning a new language is all about preparation, commitment and humility. Here is how to use all three of those things while you travel to bring back an incredibly valuable souvenir: a new language.

1. Get Started Online

Immersion into another culture is a great way to learn. But when it comes to language, it is essential to know what you are talking about first.

Advertising

Use books or free language resources online to learn the basics of the language of the country you are travelling to before you go. Get familiar with basic words, grammar rules, and the basic ways to structure a coherent sentence.

Not only will you be armed with essential phrases to get you through your first few weeks, but you will also have a head start on fluency by having some familiarity before you arrive.

2. Speak Like the Locals

One of the most important rules to keep in mind when learning a language at home or in a class is that your textbook or course materials are unlikely to reflect how people use that language in everyday life. If you picked up an English language course book, you would probably wonder who speaks that way.

Advertising

Using these resources is a great way to get started in learning a language. But the benefit of travelling is learning how people use their language in their real, everyday lives.

3. Head Somewhere Where Few People Speak English

Heading somewhere off-the-beaten-tourist-track is a good way to force yourself to practice regularly. You are less likely to encounter fluent English speakers in the jungles of Colombia than you are in Cartagena des Indes. In areas devoid of handy English-versions, you are more likely to develop your language skills because you need them to do everything. You are also not tempted to cheat by looking at translated documents.

Bonus: You are less likely to have Wi-Fi or complete mobile coverage in rural areas. This means you will have to figure out language quandaries for yourself without the use of Google Translate.

Advertising

4. Live with Locals

It is easy to get caught up in living with fellow North Americans or fellow travellers and reverting back to English all day every day. This does not help improve how much language you absorb, nor does it encourage fluency in any way.

It is easier to use your new language skills when you live with native speakers. They are able to help you out during the early phases of learning because of their grasp on the language. They can also help you find the right words you are looking for when you struggle.

Most important of all, you get a better grasp of the culture that informs the language. This means you will walk away with new friends living in new countries and a new appreciation of their language.

Advertising

5. Read, Read, Read

The best way to improve your vocabulary in any language is to read in that language regularly. Start by picking up local newspapers and working your way through them to learn more about where you are. You can try online sources.  Another good option is children’s books, which contain simplified language and important vocabulary. Work your way up to novels. Soon, you will be telling jokes in multiple languages.

The best way to learn through immersion is to really immerse yourself in the new language. This requires more than just going there. It means throwing yourself head first into the language no matter how scary it seems.

Resist the temptation to use English as your fall back and get creative when speaking in your adopted language. Not only will your language skills improve, but you will end up with a great story about the time you had to mime out the words “military tank” to a Polish man in a Krakow market.

Featured photo credit: leaveyourdailyhell.com via leaveyourdailyhell.com

More by this author

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With 8 Signs You Have A Strong Personality That Might Scare Some People How to Achieve Quick Success at Work Even If You’re Lacking in Clear Direction You’ll No Longer Be Fooled by Skillful Liars If You Know This Concept How I Kill Boredom at Work to Regain My Productivity

Trending in Brain

1 Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think 2 How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 3 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 4 How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip 5 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

c021f7eaf726bd5dbe1d0771e21e9a8e

     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

    Advertising

    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

    066f12d4b43c32a9a66c692b52826153

      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

      Advertising

      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

      Advertising

      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

      da47b0582836795829a5b6b716a314f1

        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

        049da49ea55fb677185adba10795f01f

          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

          Advertising

          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next