Do you break out in a cold sweat at the sound of a foreign language? Or are you blessed with a photographic memory and perfect pitch, making language learning a cinch?
If you're not, you may belong to the legions who struggle, arms flailing wildly, throat constricting, whenever a foreign word is uttered.
This month, I'll provide you with a few tips on how to deal with foreign languages when you travel - even if you don't speak a word.
Women on the Road News: Contents for Issue #8
- Babel or Babble? When Language Doesn't Flow
- What's New: Women on the Road website
- Travel News: 7 Uninhabited Islands; Airpass for Australia and New Zealand; Tibet Reopens
- Books: Get a Cruise Ship Job; Guide Your Own Safari
- Cause of the Month: The Power of 5
Babel or Babble? When Language Doesn't Flow
Knowing a bit of the language can revolutionize your trip! It can help you meet local people (which is why you're on the road, right?), sample 'real' cuisine in restaurants, or simply end up in the right place for a change.
These tips won't make you fluent, but they'll help put you at ease as you travel - never mind those French 'Rs' and Spanish 'Js'!
1. Before you go, find someone at home who speaks the language.
Just ask for a few basic pronunciations. In Russian, M is pronounced T and U is pronounced I. Languages are full of these differences - it'll make your life a lot easier if you know what they are.
2. Learn just one phrase.
And that phrase is... "What is the word for...?" Then point. It's a great way to build your vocabulary. You'll probably only point to things that interest you, so there's a good chance the word might stick. In Thailand my first word was 'pineapple'. Then I learned 'please'. Then 'one'. Before I knew it, I had a sentence! And a lot of smiles from pineapple street vendors. One phrase isn't enough? Learn a few more.
3. Watch TV or listen to radio.
Lucky you if you have access to global television, often in languages you didn't even know existed. Listen a bit just get used to the sound. Don't even try to understand. No world TV in your neighborhood? Then try
radio broadcasts online.
4. Read out loud.
That's right - even if you don't understand a word you're reading! It'll make the language more familiar and less bewildering. Get a celebrity magazine - the pictures will tell you what it's about!
5. Take a free language course.
And if you're up to it and a few words just won't do, there are plenty of free online language courses you might dip into!
6. Get a phrasebook or pocket dictionary.
This may seem like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised at how many people leave home without it! Just look up the word you need, and hand your phrasebook over. Do this a few times and you'll actually be having a conversation without even knowing the language.
What's New at Women on the Road Website
This month I've focused on working as you travel, especially by teaching English.
Teach English overseas gives you the inside scoop on teaching English abroad by someone who has been doing just that for 20 years.
Teaching English in France and Teaching English in Spain provide a wealth of information on the ins and outs of English teaching in these two countries.
And for women who like to stand out...When Tall Women Travel
Travel News for Backpacking Women
7 Unhabited Islands
Want to head off off the beaten track? This blog's author hasn't worked too hard (most information is from Wikipedia) but these 7 uninhabited islands do make me dream...
Airpass for Australia and New Zealand
Those of us who want to travel Down Under but shudder at airline prices may be getting a break with Virgin Blue's new Airpass.
Tibet Reopens for Tourism
Now that the Olympic torch has passed through Lhasa, Chinese authorities have reopened Tibet to foreign tourists. They say the torch's passage shows Tibet is stable enough for foreign visitors. Tibet was officially closed to tourism after anti-Chinese riots broke out in the capital in mid-March. It's your call.
Cruising for Cash
I wish I'd thought of working on a cruise ship years ago when I first started traveling... See the world and make money, too? If this sounds tempting, an e-book by Neil Maxwell-Keys, Get a Cruise Ship Job, tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Neil has done this first-hand, and - perhaps even more interesting - he's managed a cruise ship recruitment agency so he knows what they're looking for. He describes what a typical day or week on board is like, how much you'll make, what kinds of advantages you'll have, and how to prepare your job application so you stand out above the crowd.
Neil is helpful too and got back about my questions right away. The book is valuable if you're keen to go to sea and get paid for it, but even more useful is his up-to-date list of cruise job agencies that specialize in finding you an onboard job.
African Safari Special!
If you want to go on safari but dislike the crowds, Bruce Whittaker is offering a special $10 discount for Women on the Road News subscribers who order his new e-book, Guide Your Own Safari. Just use this link and enter 400 when prompted for the code. I read his book cover to cover - and it's a hefty read. He has done a huge amount of research in Southern Africa, from 4x4 rentals to dinner menus at different game parks to wildlife viewing checklists. It's clearly a labour of love written by someone who believes the environment should be embraced, not exploited, and tells you how to do it.
Cause of the Month: Power of 5
In the spirit of small initiatives that can make a difference, Power of 5 is a new charity concept designed to change the world in ways that YOU want to. It's based on a simple idea: give 5 (dollars), tell 5 (friends), share 5 (hours of volunteering each month). They fund 5 small community projects suggested by us each year. It's that simple. Power of 5.
Travel Treats: How to Pamper Yourself on the Road (we all need a dab of luxury sometime!)
If you don't want to miss anything new on Women on the Road, please subscribe to my RSS feed - that stands for Really Simple Syndication - and it really is.
Just visit my blog, and use the orange RSS/XML buttons in the left-hand column to add the feed to your feed reader. Or, copy and paste this link into your feed reader (http://www.women-on-the-road.com/Backpacking.xml).
Happy travels! Leyla