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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Speak the language when you travel
  •         Article by: STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM , New York Times 
  • Updated: July 28, 2012 - 12:38 PM
Affordable options -- including audio files, podcasts and videos -- can help you feel less like a tourist.
Regardless of budget or destination, there are numerous instructional language programs available that help travelers feel less like a tourist.
One of the pleasures of travel is being able to speak the language of the place you're visiting -- or at least say "hello" and "where's the bathroom?" Here are some language-learning options that won't break your budget:
The BBC ( Users will find instruction for 40 languages, including French, Spanish, Greek, Chinese, German, Italian and Portuguese. Click on a language and then "holiday phrases" to see an array of vocabulary categories -- Food and Drink, Shopping, Getting Around -- that can be downloaded as audio files. For those who have at least 12 weeks before a trip, there is an easy-to-use beginners' course. In all, a lively, breezy introduction to a language, though some of the videos are not available in all areas.
Coffee Break Spanish and Coffee Break French ( A search on iTunes will turn up many delightful (and free) language lessons, including these spirited podcasts from Radio Lingua Network, which promise "language learning with your latte." Each 15- to 20-minute podcast encourages participation. The network also offers "One Minute" crash courses (really two to four minutes) in languages including Arabic, Greek, Mandarin and Irish. The hosts are Scottish, so while you're learning French or Spanish, you also may feel as if you've been transported to South Ayrshire. But you'll enjoy smart, energetic, well-produced lessons.
Digital Dialects (DigitalDialects .com): Visitors can beef up their vocabulary by identifying items in animated scenes. Choose Italian and a category like "Clothing," and you'll be asked to match the word to the fashions worn by a graying Italian lady (when red arrows point to her dress, select "il vestito"). It's more educational than playing FarmVille on Facebook, but the site may be better suited for children.
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