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What are your thoughts on learning language for travel?

Travel Forums General Talk What are your thoughts on learning language for travel?

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11. Posted by Adri204 (Budding Member 82 posts) 6y

I carry a little phrase book that has sayings in differnt languages and then I at least make the attempt to speak and practice what Ive learned. Its hard to learn all the differnt languages but I make a reasonable effort :)

Adri :)

12. Posted by elliottk (Inactive 40 posts) 6y

Quoting Thomasvo

You chose a difficult language to begin with :)
Spanish would be a good choice if you want to cover some ground. It's like the 4th most spoken language in the world. It should also be easier to learn (than Japanese) since it has the same origin as English and there are no "weird" characters involved.

The past week or two since I posted the original question I find myself studying both languages (with surprisingly little confusion between the two ... though I'm sure the doubling up slows both down considerably). There are some interesting differences between Japanese and Spanish. I'm not sure I'd say Spanish is significantly more easy. Reading is definitely easier, but I think grammar (verb forms, tenses, etc) is somewhat easier in Japanese than in Spanish. Of course, that could just be because I already have a base of knowledge in Japanese and am all but starting Spanish from scratch (though I assume that being from the states gives me an edge there just because of all the Spanish I overhear in my daily travels). I think I'm going to go a little heavier into the Spanish for the time being because it seems more practical but I'm still going to dabble in Japanese, especially focusing on kanji since I don't think that will interfere with the Spanish studies much at all.

I've been interested in languages for a long time. Learning some Japanese prior to my trip just gave me the boost I needed to finally really dive in to one. I think I need to watch out for that tendency to drift from one language to another and try to focus, though. I have several languages I've looked at over the years These usually involve making attempts that last less than a week so I feel pretty good that I've put the time I have into Japanese. I think part of the indecision and lack of follow through comes from two things: (1) uncertainty about ever needing or using the language in question and (2) uncertainty about whether I'm investing time in the right language given the other languages I could be studying. I guess there's some crossover between the two. Here are the languages I've done this with and the reasons why they have interested me:

Romanian: Almost went there with the Peace Corps (I had to back out due to a student loan that wouldn't defer ... I could go now that I've paid it .... but I now have a good job so ... okay that's another story)

Russian: Because it's my heritage. I'm Ukrainian, technically, but Russian is more widespread.

Spanish: Because it's relatively easy for English speakers and is the most widely spoken language besides English where I live.

French: Took it in high school. Not sure why other than I thought it would get me the girls. It's also a very international language.

Japanese: Interest in culture, novelty, travel, the challenge of learning kanji and the various formalities in Japanese culture. I also have as a long term goal to read Yukio Mishma's novels in his native Japanese.

See ... looking at this list, I can't say that there are any of these that I don't want to learn anymore. I suppose Romanian would take a back burner unless I have a compelling reason to go there someday. My "someday" travel plans have me going to Russian, Spanish, French and Japanese speaking countries. Even if I never travel, Spanish definitely seems the most practical, though.

Sorry for the long response. Just waxing philosophical here.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2010, at 15:15 by elliottk ]

13. Posted by dnicholson (Full Member 146 posts) 6y

My plan trip to Japan will only last for a few weeks as it is only a vacation and I don't think that learning the language that deep is not really needed. A book of Enlgish-Japanese dictionary or vocabulary will be enough for me as I'm pretty sure that most of them are also English speakers. But I'm not saying that you shouldn't learn the language as being able to speak a lot of language could be useful specially if you will be staying in the foreign land for a long time.

14. Posted by elliottk (Inactive 40 posts) 6y

Quoting dnicholson

My plan trip to Japan will only last for a few weeks as it is only a vacation and I don't think that learning the language that deep is not really needed. A book of Enlgish-Japanese dictionary or vocabulary will be enough for me as I'm pretty sure that most of them are also English speakers. But I'm not saying that you shouldn't learn the language as being able to speak a lot of language could be useful specially if you will be staying in the foreign land for a long time.

Yup. To get around, you really only need the basics for politeness. It's a very easy country to get around for an English speaker since almost everyone understands English (even if they aren't comfortable speaking). This is especially true the closer you get to Kyoto or Tokyo. Most of my opportunity to speak Japanese came when I was on Kyushu.

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