Learn to speak the lingo

by possandruby

Great news for all Australian travellers our international borders are open albeit with many limitations and restrictions in place. Once again, we are able to travel to foreign shores and immerse ourselves in different cultures, traditions, cuisines and of course language.

When we travel, we often have many unforgettable experiences but the most memorable of these tend to be the interactions with local people.  There is nothing more fun and enjoyable than sharing each others’ language and with just a few simple words you can make meaningful connections.

Whilst we prepare to travel internationally once more what better time to prepare and start learning some key phrases and words in the local language of your destination. We went straight to the experts to find out the best ways to go about gaining some language skills and spoke to Penny Wilson from Lingo Mamma.

Penny started her online business Lingo Mama because of her passion for travel and language, a leader in the travel language space she shares top tips for language travels and language learning and  even some unique language focused trips.

We chatted to Penny about her top hints and tips for learning languages for travel. In our interview she generously gave us some insight into the best ways to get started on a new language which we have shared with you.


What are the most important words to learn in any language?

Words that are important to you! If you are communicating with your kids, then you might like to learn words like colours, animals, fruits etc or encouragement words like well done, thank you, please, try again etc.

If you are learning for travel, then some simple everyday phrases are a must. Hello, please thank you. Where is the toilet? Do you have space for 2 people? Can I have a xx coffee? How much is xx? Where is the xx? And then words for things you like to eat and drink are also very important!

What are the best ways to learn a language?

There is no easy way! And it does take trial and error to find the method that suits you. I like to learn with a bit of structure – say with a teacher 1:1 and a course/text and supplement this with more informal learning with a tutor or youtube or TV. I think having this approach gets even more important once you pass the beginner stage. Unfortunately, learning solo with just an app won’t really cut it! Unless you are a super dedicated learner and love learning some of the random things the apps put in! But apps can be a great supplement to your overall learning.

My favourite way to learn and improve my language skills is in-country. I LOVE language travel (when you travel to a destination with the primary purpose of learning the language!) I’ve done this in China, Vietnam and Taiwan and I really recommend it! You can be a complete beginner, but I think it really helps to have a little bit of the basics before you hit the ground. Next stop for my in-country learning will hopefully be a Lingo Mama language trip to New Caledonia in 2022 to learn French!

Lingo Mamma Penny

How can you perfect and practice pronunciation?

Listening as much as you can to different accents and inputs – TV, podcasts, video lessons, your teacher/tutors and language exchange partners. And of course having the opportunity to practice and perfect your pronunciation in the country that your target language is spoken is priceless!

What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to learn language for travel?

Trying to learn too many new words and phrases – concentrate on what you really need to know and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Don’t be too concerned about getting ‘perfect’ pronunciation – there really is no such thing! So don’t put that pressure on yourself! Just by getting some general greetings, conversation starters and key vocabulary under your belt is a big achievement and the people you talk to on your travels will be SO appreciative. Plus knowing some of the language really does give you such an insight into the culture, the people, history, food and life of the country you are visiting. It’s the key!

Learn the language

What are your 3 top tips for learning and using local language while travelling?

If the people you are speaking to respond to you in English, don’t be disheartened! It is usually their default and often how they have been trained to communicate with travellers. Don’t give up though, keep trying!

Likewise, if people you are speaking to don’t understand you, try it again, make sure you are speaking loud enough (I know when I am nervous speaking in another language and often in a loud place, I can speak too quietly!) and add in lots of smiles! 

Don’t forget body language and talking in context is key! If you are lined up at a coffee counter, it is logical to expect the server to ask you for your order and for you to respond with what you want. Trying out your new found language skills in settings like this is a really good way to start.

Doing a short travel focussed language course before your trip can be really rewarding – you can find these courses offered in-person in your home city or there are lots of online options too.

Learning a new language is lots of fun, not just for travelling but as a way of challenging yourself, and connecting with a new culture.  Jump in and do it and always keep it FUN!,

So with all this knowledge about how to learn and here to being it’s now time to choose your language and start. Be sure to visit Penny at the Lingo Mama website and follow her on instagram @lingo_mama 

Leave. a comment below about your language learning techniques and feel free to share any tips that have worked well for you.

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