Phileas Fogg and Passepartout approach the Swiss Alps

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Language Primer

Our Language Primer discusses language resources for tourists and travelers for languages they might encounter on their trip.  It also offers some advice from experienced world travelers about learning a few phrases of another language.  This includes some simple techniques you can use to learn and remember a few phrases once you are on your trip. Remember, the best phonetics to capture the sound are the ones you invent yourself. We'll show you how.
 
Before You Go -  Part 1 of 2
Here are some tips for learning a language using a combination of traditional and online sources and methods. Learning a few phrases of the language of the countries you visit will enhance your travel experience. Yes, some travel experts say that you will get along just fine only speaking English, especially if it is a place that caters to tourists.  But experienced travelers know you will have more wonderful experiences if you can speak a little of the local language.  It is called being polite and friendly when out and about in the global village.  So what are you waiting for? 

Have
The Language Experience  You only need 5 basic words and phrases to be polite and friendly and about 50 to convey basic needs. Download our free Language Player and Pocket Module and you will be speaking 10 words and phrases in 5 languages in no time.
   
1. Local Classes

If you are planning to spend a month or more in other countries, you might want to consider taking a language course.  The yellow pages will probably have a section under Language Schools you can check out.  And if your city or town has a college or other higher learning institute, ask them about continuing education courses.  Other local resources include cultural organizations that may offer classes or you may be able to get a private tutor.
2.  Travel Guides 

Many paperback travel guides include a section, typically in the back of the book, with some basic phrases in the languages of the country or countries that are covered. Of course you don't want to pull out the book every time you need to say something.  That is too cumbersome. Some people copy or tear out the pages with the phrases and stick them in their purse or wallet.  They need to be handy to be useful.
3.   Phrasebooks 

A Phrasebook will either cover one language or several languages.  If it covers several languages, it will typical be for languages for a region of the world, like Europe. 

Sections for Everyone
.  Almost all phrasebooks are divided into sections (e.g., basic phrases, shopping, dining, transportation, etc.)  This is based on the assumption that you will become familiar with the content before you need to find something.  Otherwise, your vacation may be over before you find the phrase you want! (Make sure to find the page with "Where is the restroom?" before you need it!  They may have hidden it somewhere other than in the Basic Phrases section!)

Phonetics
. Almost all phrasebooks have the English text, the text of the other language and a phonetic pronunciation. The phonetics are usually either a transliteration, some other phonetic pronunciation approach, or they will use the International Phonetic Alphabet.  If phonetics are used, some may be easier to understand than others.  A phrasebook will typically have a section up front with an explanation of their phonetic codes. Check this out and thumb through some pages to see if you will be comfortable with their approach. Otherwise, you will probably not be able to use them to get the sound right by merely looking at the phonetics. Then you will be reduced to just using the phrasebook in an emergency when you need to point to some word in the native language to get your meaning across.

4.  Dictionaries

Take along a small bi-directional dictionary.  Some dictionaries include phonetic pronunciations as well.
Go To Part 2 of 2

 






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