Travel Tip - Talk the Talk

If you are traveling out of the country to a non-English speaking country, and you have some time to prepare, try learning the language!  One of the best ways to get the most out of any foreign experience is to be able to communicate, even minimally, with people you will no doubt meet.

Learn a few basic phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting, even if it is only "Hello," "Goodbye," and "Thank You".  I am amazed at how much more receptive locals are to tourists who at least attempt to communicate with them in their own country's language.  Plus, there is quite a rush that comes with being able to speak to someone in a new language and understand their response.  

Rosetta Stone is the best option on the market right now, but if you don't have a couple hundred dollars to spend, fear not!  If you only need a few phrases, a simple Google search will reap plenty of resources.  If you would like something a little more intensive, where you can build a language foundation in an academic approach, but without the high price tag, look no further than Livemocha.  

Livemocha is a FREE online language learning program.  Not only does it allow you to take language courses online for free in many language options, but it also can connect you to other users around the globe who are trying to learn English.  You can 'friend' people, review other users submissions, and have other native speakers review your writing and speaking submissions.

I can personally attest to the usefulness of Livemocha.  Prior to our Europe backpacking trip this year, I decided that I wanted to learn some Italian before we visited Italy.  I joined Livemocha and worked through 2 units of the lessons over the course of 3 months, and bought a Goldkey membership so that I could download audio lessons and flashcards to my iPod.  The lessons were useful, and by the time we reached Italy, I was able to ask a man on the street for directions to Grom Gelateria, and understood his response and followed his directions.  SUCCESS! 

I highly recommend Livemocha!  I will be using it again soon to start brushing up on my Portuguese!

Livemocha: http://livemocha.com/

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