23 Prepare your English for Travel

Going on holiday soon? Wondering how to fast brush up your English for travel? I have some cool tips for you in a new episode of the ‘Figure Out English’ podcast!

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After a little summer break, we are back with our podcast ‘Figure out English’ and why are we back?

I wanted to talk to you about English for travel, your holiday plans and the vocabulary which will be
important for you if you’re going to travel abroad this year.

When is your next holiday?
Where are you going?
Do you have any plans?
What are you going to do and why are you visiting these countries?

Figure Out English 23 How to prepare your English for travelThere are a lot of questions. I wish we could talk to you one-to-one and I could ask you all these questions about your future holidays this year.

If you’re traveling abroad, are you worried about your English? Are you learning a local language?

It, of course, will depend on where you are going but I would like to give you a couple of tips on how to ‘brush’ your English quickly for your next travel. In fact, my advice will be about every language you are learning.

Tip 1: Learn some basic phrases in the language of the country you are going to

In fact, it is a very good idea. From my experience, people really like when you say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ to them in their local language.

Learn some basic phrases:

  • greetings (‘hello’, ‘good morning’),
  • saying ‘goodbye’ (‘goodbye’, ‘see you’, ‘thank you very much’),
  • saying ‘thank you’.

They also say it’s a very good idea to learn some numbers like 1 2 3 5 10 to understand the prices and, of course, the most useful vocabulary for you – it will be food. Learn the names of the local dishes.

Great Resources to Use:

Lonely Planet Phrasebooks (various languages)

One-minute language by Radiolingua (various languages)

Pimsleur Courses (various languages)

Tip 2: Practise your English for travel with local teachers

But if you are going to use English in your travel and if you are worried a little bit about the lack of speaking practice, about communication, how you’re going to speak and listen, it’s a good idea to prepare a little bit.

My students when they are preparing for a travel to some country often go to www.italki.com, a website where you can find any individual tutor for any language. And guess what they’re doing: they choose an English teacher from the country where they are going.

For example, if you are going to the Czech Republic, you can find a Czech person who teaches English. In the Czech Republic, there is not so much chance that you will be talking to native speakers. You will be mostly talking to locals and if you take a couple of lessons with this Czech English teacher, you will get used to their accent because some non-native accents are actually harder to understand than the native speakers’ one.

I really think that it could help you gain confidence in your communication.

Tip 3: don’t worry about English native speakers – they are the best!

But what about the countries with English as an official language – for example, if you’ve decided to go to Great Britain for your holiday?

English native speakers are extremely positive about their language. I mean you don’t need to speak perfectly for them to like you and to feel positive about your communication.

From my experience of speaking different languages, in some countries, the native speakers are quite cautious about your language. They want you to speak either none of it or perfect one. I will be not telling such negative examples but this is definitely not so about any English-speaking country.

Tip 4: Concentrate on speaking and listening

Anyway, English is the main international language of communication and if you just use English in your travels, there is no need to learn it for fluency. You can simply pick up some phrases, some basic communication functions, for example, how to ask for help or to ask about price, how to buy things, how to communicate in the shops and so on.

Tip 5: Listening should become your main priority

If you are preparing for a trip to an English-speaking country, your main focus in preparation for this trip should be listening. Grammar and writing skills are not so important in English for travel.

You need to concentrate on speaking as I said before but listening will be even more important for you.

Practise listening to dialogues, watch movies and Youtube channels. They seem difficult at first but they have subtitles, of course, and if you practice step by step every day for a month, for example, you will see this huge improvement in your listening skills.

And if you are sure that you will understand what people are telling you, you will be more confident in communication. This is your main focus and this is my main advice.

Great Resources to Use:

ororo.tv (for watching films and TV series)

Easy Languages Youtube channel

Tip 6: Practise English in your trip – it’s a great learning opportunity

First of all, don’t be afraid – remember about the positivity. Nobody is angry about bad English anymore in the world especially if you don’t communicate in this language every day.

But what’s also important – you really have to push yourself to practise. Don’t communicate only with
the guides who speak your language. Try to use your travel as a real learning opportunity.

What you can do…

You could try to talk to the hotel staff in English only, even if they speak your own language – learn from this experience.

Find the free walking tours

In many cities now, you can to go to the free excursion around the city and the guide will be speaking English to you. This is great. My students use this and they always say it’s very very useful.

(Example Free Walking Tour in English in Prague)

You can also find the local language exchange community

If you travel to Europe, practically in every city there will be one: people who like learning languages get together and just learn through speaking and in this communities, the biggest group will be of people trying to practise their English and, again, for you it will be a great experience.

(Example Language Exchange Community in Barcelona)

I hope this helps and please let me know how you’re preparing for your travel, where you are going, or maybe you need some kind of help from me. I will be very very happy to answer your comments and questions.

Thanks a lot and happy travels!

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