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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on October 29, 2018

What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

Brain fog is more of a symptom than a medical condition itself, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to memory problems, lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus.

Many often excuse brain fog for a bad day, or get so used to it that they ignore it. Unfortunately, when brain fog is ignored it ends up interfering with work and school. The reason many ignore it is because they aren’t fully aware of what causes it and how to deal with it.

It’s important to remember that if your brain doesn’t function fully — nothing else in your life will. Most people have days where they can’t seem to concentrate or forget where they put their keys.

It’s very normal to have days where you can’t think clearly, but if you’re experiencing these things on a daily basis, then you’re probably dealing with brain fog for a specific reason.

So what causes brain fog? It can be caused by a string of things, so we’ve made a list things that causes brain fog and how to prevent it and how to stop it.

1. Stress

It’s no surprise that we’ll find stress at the top of the list. Most people are aware of the dangers of stress. It can increase blood pressure, trigger depression and make us sick as it weakens our immune system.

Another symptom is mental fatigue. When you’re stressed your brain can’t function at its best. It gets harder to think and focus, which makes you stress even more.

Stress can be prevented by following some simple steps. If you’re feeling stressed you should avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — even though it may feel like it helps in the moment. Two other important steps are to indulge in more physical activities and to talk to someone about it.

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Besides that, you can consider keeping a stress diary, try relaxation techniques like mediation, getting more sleep and maybe a new approach to time management.

2. Diet

Most people know that the right or wrong diet can make them gain or loss weight, but not enough people think about the big impact a specific diet can have on one’s health even if it might be healthy.

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency and especially vegans can be get hid by brain fog, because their diet often lacks the vitamin B-12. The vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental and neurological disorders.

The scary thing is that almost 40 % of adults are estimated to lack B12 in their diet. B12 is found in animal products, which is why many vegans are in B12 deficiency, but this doesn’t mean that people need animal products to prevent the B12 deficiency. B12 can be taken as a supplement, which will make the problem go away.

Another vital vitamin that can cause brain fog is vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough vitamin D in their diet. Alongside B12 and vitamin D is omega-3, which because of its fatty acids helps the brain function and concentrate. Luckily, both vitamin D and omega-3 can be taken as supplements.

Then there’s of course also the obvious unhealthy foods like sugar. Refined carbohydrates like sugar will send your blood sugar levels up, and then send you right back down. This will lead to brain fog, because your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel and once you start playing around with your brain — it gets confused.

Besides being hit by brain fog, you’ll also experience tiredness, mood swings and mental confusion. So, if you want to have clear mind, then stay away from sugar.

Sometimes the same type of diet can be right for some and wrong for others. If you’re experiencing brain fog it’s a good idea to seek out your doctor or a nutritionist. They can take some tests and help you figure out which type of diet works best for your health, or find out if you’re lacking something specific in your diet.

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3. Allergies

If you have food allergies, or are simply a bit sensitive to specific foods, then eating those foods can lead to brain fog. Look out for dairy, peanuts and aspartame that are known to have a bad effect on the brain.

Most people get their calories from corn, soy and wheat — and big surprise — these foods are some of the most common foods people are allergic to. If you’re in doubt, then you can look up food allergies[1] and find some of the most common symptoms.

If you’re unsure about being allergic or sensitive, then you can start out by cutting out a specific food from your diet for a week or two. If the brain fog disappears, then you’re most likely allergic or sensitive to this food. The symptoms will usually go away after a week or two once you remove the trigger food from the diet.

If you still unsure, then you should seek out the help of your doctor.

4. Lack of sleep

All of us know we need sleep to function, but it’s different for everybody how much sleep they need. A few people can actually function on as little as 3-4 hours of sleep every night, but these people are very, very rare.

Most people need 8 to 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need, then this will interfere with your brain and you may experience brain fog.

Instead of skipping a few hours of sleep to get ahead of things you need to do, you’ll end up taking away productive hours from your day, because you won’t be able to concentrate and your thoughts will be cloudy.

Many people have trouble sleeping but you can help improve your sleep by a following a few simple steps.

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There is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, which is a technique that regulates your breath and helps you fall asleep faster. Another well-known technique is to avoid bright lights before you go to sleep.

A lot of us are guilty of falling asleep with the TV on or with our phone right by us, but the blue lights from these screens suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, which actually makes us stay awake longer instead. If you’re having trouble going to sleep without doing something before you close your eyes, then try taking up reading instead.

If you want to feel more energized throughout the day, start doing this.

5. Hormonal changes

Brain fog can be triggered by hormonal changes. Whenever your levels of progesterone and estrogen increases, you may experience short-term cognitive impairment and your memory can get bad.

If you’re pregnant or going through menopause, then you shouldn’t worry too much if your mind suddenly starts to get a bit cloudy. Focus on keeping a good diet, getting enough of sleep and the brain fog should pass once you’re back to normal.

6. Medication

If you’re on some medication, then it’s very normal to start experiencing some brain fog.

You may start to forget things that you used to be able to remember, or you get easily confused. Maybe you can’t concentrate the same way that you used to. All of these things can be very scary, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

Brain fog is a very normal side effect of drugs, but by lowering your dosage or switching over to another drug; the side effect can’t often be improved and maybe even completely removed.

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7. Medical condition

Brain fog can often be a symptom of a medical condition. Medical conditions that include inflammation, fatigue, changes in blood glucose level are known to cause brain fog.

Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, diabetes, migraines, hypothyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Lupus and dehydration can all cause brain fog.[2]

The bottom line

If you haven’t been diagnosed, then never start browsing around Google for the conditions and the symptoms. Once you start looking for it; it’s very easy to (wrongfully) self-diagnose.

Take a step back, put away the laptop and relax. If you’re worried about being sick, then always check in with your doctor and take it from there.

Remember, the list of things that can cause brain fog is long and it can be something as simple as the wrong diet or not enough sleep.

Featured photo credit: Asdrubal luna via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Food Allergy: Common Allergens
[2]HealthLine: 6 Possible Causes of Brain Fog

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