Growing up monolingual in the USA, I wasn’t exposed to other languages except for some mandatory classes in high school. It was a lot of book learning and memorization, which wasn’t too attractive. When I was a little older, I reconnected with some Spanish classes at a community college with a couple of friends, and now for many years, I have studied Spanish both in and out of the classroom setting. Some of this is to learn a second language, some is for fun, and some is to keep my brain alive.
I didn’t start traveling until I was in my mid-thirties internationally. Travel has exposed me to other languages and cultures. I have studied languages in different ways. I have traveled to places where I have studied the language beforehand in a classroom setting, some places where I have picked up study guides in the library, and somewhere I have not put any effort into the language.
Two different travels I want to talk about: The first was a fun getaway to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The other was a trip to Sweden with work.
When I traveled to Thailand, it was a prearranged trip where everything was set up for us, including a native tour guide. I really did not put any effort into learning the Thai language, not even essential words like bathroom, check, or which way is. Without the language I felt out of place. It was during this trip that I decided that learning the basics was very important and provided a better experience during my travels.
When I traveled to Sweden, I study Swedish in a six-week class that focused a little too much on grammar, but I did learn phrases and key things to know about the culture. I could say just enough to get myself in trouble since being a blond in Sweden makes the people think you are a native. I have found that natives love when you attempt their language. When they find out you have put effort into their language, they are really friendly. A lot of times they want to practice their English. I find that it is a great benefit to learn at least a minimum list of phrases and keywords in the language of the country you are traveling to.
Taking classes is time-consuming, so when I found LingoHut, it really hit the mark. It focuses on key phrases and things that are useful when you are on the ground in the country. Sometimes learning how to conjugate verbs and other grammar that is offered in most classes the mind is bogged down.