If you spoke German, Spanish, and Norwegian, you’d recognize how each language says “How are you?” in those sentences above…
To the modern traveler (and anybody working in tourism), the ability to communicate in another language has become more important as travel becomes cheaper and more and more people start to move to more and more destinations across the world.
There’s nothing worse than being that tourist who assumes everybody speaks English, and demanding that they do so to suit your comfort.
Even just learning the basics – “Where is the beer?” and “Bathroom, now!”, for example – can go a long way in getting you a more authentic travel experience and boosting your image in the eyes of the people you’re speaking to.
Luckily for you, language learning has advanced greatly over the past five years. It used to be that you had two options – pay for expensive language software (like Rosetta Stone), or pay for an equally expensive class at a university or college.
These days you have a lot more options – among them is my favorite app ever (next to Everseat, of course!).
Duolingo is a FREE language learning app available on your Apple or Android device. It uses a similar learning program as Rosetta Stone, and I’ve found it to be just as effective (and without the hundred-dollar price tag).
Duolingo uses gamification to reward you for your progress, giving you incentive to complete the different lessons. There are speaking, reading comprehension, and translation parts that each give a boost to the language you’re learning:
I’ve been able to improve my high school German, and am currently preparing for a trip to South America by taking their Spanish program.
They currently have 6 full programs for English speakers, with many more in the pipeline including Ukrainian and Norwegian.
There are only two small downsides I’ve found to the app so far…
The first is that it doesn’t teach regional differences in the language. For instance it may teach you to speak the German found in Germany, but you’d be lost trying to understand the German coming from a Swiss speaker (to be fair though, not even Germans can understand them.).
The second is that while Duolingo provides a great basis for learning a language, it is limited in what it can teach you. You’ll eventually hit a ceiling that only practicing with a native speaker will help you break.
With all that said though, this is a great app if you’re just traveling for a short period of time and/or want a quick and easy introduction into the language.
Check it out before your next trip – it might turn out to be a life saver.
Vôtre en technologie,