How to learn a language on the road (dreamstime)
Article 12 February

How to... learn a language’s linguistic guru Ulrike Reinke offers tips on how to start speaking like a local

1. Get tuition on the ground

Forget language CDs and online learning, you can only really learn a language when you are immersed in the country and the culture, and are forced to speak to the locals.

2. Live with a local

Staying with a local host forces you to speak the language outside of school time, which helps you to pick it up much faster and get used to the new sounds. You also get to know the culture better, in a friendly, personal environment.

3. Immerse yourself

Always choose a language school that offers complete immersion: it is very important that teachers at the school only speak in the language you want to learn, even if you are an absolute beginner. You might feel insecure starting out, but you’ll soon be conversing.

4. Do ‘language-plus’ courses

Language courses combined with other courses, such as cooking, are very useful for acquiring new vocabulary, learning more about the country’s culture and generally enriching your language-learning stay.

5. Avoid touristy guided trips

Groups are almost always huge, guides usually speak in English and you run from one point to another without having time to appreciate what you are visiting. Language-school guides usually speak in the native language and take time to answer individual questions.

6. Make efforts to meet the locals

In touristy cities, it’s difficult to meet the natives. Ask the language-school staff where you can find the bars, clubs and restaurants that the locals go to. runs a range of learning trips, from language tuition to jewellery-making, kiteboarding, dancing and more

Did you know?

There are 6,912 living languages; English has the most words (250,000), Khmer has the largest alphabet (74 letters), Botswanan !Xóõ has the most sounds (112) 

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