Traveling Abroad? Learn the Language with Audio Books

June 9, 2011

If you snuck a peak at someone’s bucket list, you’d likely find some exotic travel destinations penciled in.  Just about everyone dreams of visiting the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, or any one of dozens of major cities.  The world is full of different countries and cultures to experience, so many, in fact, that you might not be able to fully experience them all even in a long lifetime.  But maybe you can squeeze in a few.  The only real problem is interacting with the locals once you arrive.  Sure you can try to rely on the fact that many countries cater to English-speaking tourists, but at some point you’re going to end up with an impasse in which neither party can understand the other.  So maybe you should do yourself a favor and learn at least a few common phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting.  Here are just a few good reasons why an audio book is the right way to do it.

  1. Pronunciation.  This is the single best reason to use an audio book rather than a regular text guide to language.  How you pronounce a word can make a big difference in the meaning, especially in certain countries (like Japan).  Plus, many cultures utilize a variety of sounds that may not appear in your native language (rolled Rs are common in Spanish, but not in German or English, for example).  And since you want to be understood, it behooves you to learn to say things correctly.
  2. Call and repeat.  There’s a reason language teachers make their students repeat words and phrases.  For one thing, it helps beginners to learn the proper way to make sounds.  But it also solidifies the word and meaning in your memory.  By using an audio book, you not only hear the language, but you get to repeat it as you would in a class setting.
  3. Save time.  An audio book can be utilized on your drive to work, while you’re drifting off to dreamland (subliminal messages?), or even while you check in for your flight.  A regular book, on the other hand, can only be used when you have down time.
  4. Skip the lessons.  All you really need to learn to squeak by in a foreign country are common phrases.  Where is the bathroom?  Where is the bank?  Where is the embassy?  What am I eating?  Of course, you’ll also need to know common directions (right, left, etc.) and food names in order to understand the answer.  But you can skip over lessons like “a trip to the library” and “household furnishings” that you’ll probably never need.
  5. Easy to travel with.  All you really have to do is pull your audio book off the disc and put it on your mp3 player (or download an mp3 version to your desktop).  You can travel light by leaving the heavy phrase book at home and carrying a lightweight audio version instead.  It will save space in your luggage and you can continue to listen to it as you travel.

Sarah Danielson writes for Charming Sicily where you can find the best in Sicily hotels and plan your next luxurious vacation.

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