When we lived in Germany when I was a kid, my mom carried a pocket phrasebook around wherever we went and it served her well.
Things have changed a lot since then. Today, we have some really fantastic resources for breaking language barriers that may arise when traveling internationally. If you’re dreaming of world travel but have reservations because you don’t speak the language I have some solutions that will make your trip smoother so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation.

Below are my 5 favorite options for overcoming a language barrier, they are helpful not only for traveling but during your travel planning process too.

(click on a selection to skip ahead to that section)

  1. Google Translate basics for desktop
  2. Google Translate basics App for mobile devices
  3. Pimsleur Audio Course
  4. Duolingo
  5. Old Fashioned Flashcards

Google Translate

Google Translate is an invaluable tool for planning foreign Travel. Google translate is available for desktop as well as mobile users.

Google Translate for Desktop

I couldn’t even begin to plan international travel to nonspeaking English countries without Google Translate for desktop. It really is a game changer. I can navigate the web, select websites in any language, and with the click of a button Google will translate the text into English, wonderful…magical! You can use Google Translate for Desktop to translate text as well as spoken language, and translate full documents! One of my favorite features is to use Google Translate to help with word pronunciation!

simply go to https://translate.google.com/ , select your language and off you go!

To view a full list of languages that translate offers, simply click the caret icon (circled in red)

Google Translate App for Mobile Devices

Use the Google Translate App for your phone wherever you have cell service, wi-fi, or download offline translation of your chosen language!!! I recently downloaded Spanish for offline translation and in a few instances could not have gotten by without it! You’ll need to download the Google Translate App onto your phone. Below you’ll find an image of what you’ll see when you open the app. Translate text, spoken word, transcribe audio, even translate full conversations in real time! It’s one of my favorite features! So handy!

With the app you can even translate text in an image! Think signs, documents and menu’s when you’re traveling!

I have a full comprehensive tutorial for using Google Translate for desktop and also the translate app just follow this link!

Google Translate explained: a step-by-step guide to Google Translate

It’s so nice that google does all that work for you, but what if you want to learn a little of the language? Locals always appreciate your efforts to communicate in their language, so it’s nice to know a few basics; please, thank you etc.

3- Pimsleur Audio Courses

I originally got this course on CD from my local library. I loved it so much, I ended up buying all 5 levels of German instruction. I have a two hour per day commute, and listen while I drive. I’m half-way through German 4 now! It is pricey but if you are serious about learning, this program is quite effective.
Learn more about learning a foreign language with Pimsleur audio courses at their website. They are currently offering a 7 day free trial on dozen’s of languages.

4- Duolingo

Duolingo, an online language learning tool is free, and it is fun! It’s like a game. What I love so much about Duolingo is that you can learn to READ, WRITE AND SPEAK the language! fantastic!
“Duolingo lessons adapt to your learning style. Exercises are tailored to help you learn and review vocabulary effectively. A study has shown that 34 hours of Duolingo are equal to 1 university semester of language courses.”

Here’s what Duolingo it looks like:

using duolingo to learn a new language travel tips

5- Old Fashioned Flash Cards

Duolingo used to have a fun virtual flashcard site called Tiny Cards. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. I make old fashioned flashcards instead.
I have found through my Pimsleur course, that I make better progress with learning full sentences, instead of studying single words. Therefore, I have flashcards for vocabulary words I’m struggling with, but have also purchased a German phrasebook and made flashcards for full sentences.

If you know a little of the language, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable on your travels!

There will be times during your travels when you are going to struggle with the language barrier, but don’t let it stop you. You’ll be fine!
Now, I should get busy learning a little French for my upcoming trip to France! Bon voyage and Au revoir!!!
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