Top 10 Phrases
To Learn in Any Language
Also, if you have satellite radio or TV, try to find programming in your desired language. You can watch with subtitles, which always helps, but without is still OK. The more you’re exposed, the more you’ll begin to pick up the basics. Bottom line, self-imposed immersion is a proven method. So listen and watch, with or without subtitles — it all goes in. Even if it sounds like machine gun rapid fire, the more you listen the more your brain gets attuned and reprogrammed to pick it up.
For study aids, check out: Berlitz, Barron’s, Lonely Planet, Langenscheidts, Oxford, Fodors and Pimsleur. Find the ones that fit your style, needs, and budget. There are many free products out there; try those first and then invest more as you’re ready to get more out of it.
There are so many great mobile apps for learning languages. You can find free ones or pay for one. Usually, the premium ones are ad free and work better.
There are apps that use your mobile device’s camera to translate written language, and some that allow folks to speak into your phone and they’ll attempt to translate. These are awesome, but often slow, flawed, and, if not connected to the internet, they don’t work at all. Don’t become reliant on technology to do the work for you. You need to shoulder the bulk of the learning process in case you’re in a situation where technology isn’t accessible.
Google Translate is one of the best. You can type in passages and translate more than 100 languages when con- nected to the internet — about half that when you’re not. It can work with more than 30 languages when translating photos of signs, watching videos, and translating spoken language.
Microsoft isn’t quite able to match up to Google overall; however, its real-time language translator is simply the best one out there right now. SAYHI is one of the better apps for speech-to-speech translation, and, in general, Speak & Translate as well as TRIPLINGO are other excellent apps.
For Asian languages and their unique characters, some apps specialize in these and are really good for native European language speakers, such as Papago and Waygo.
There are also wearable translating devices, such as the ILI and The Pilot. They have limitations, but are way cheaper than hiring a personal translator.
Finally, there are some photo-translating apps that allow you to take a photo of a sign or billboard, for example, and then translate it. They require internet connectivity, so they have some limitations on their utility, but signs are often in a city or you can type the letters in your translator app when not connected and read your downloaded dictionary info to figure it out.
Not Everything Translates Equally
Gestures: A simple “OK” sign in America equates to calling someone an “a**hole” in other countries. Do your homework.
Culture: In some places, people can become highly offended if you stop and ask a woman for directions or show the bottoms of your feet, for example. Be smart.
Don’t assume you’ll get off the hook for these offenses because you’re a foreigner. And learn the common signs of other cultures if you plan to travel there; not every nation uses U.S. or EU-style signage.
Also, some cultures yell as a way of communicating — don’t take it personally. Yelling back doesn’t make them understand you any better, so don’t get frustrated and become the ugly American. Stay calm, expect mistakes, and have a sense of humor. You’ll get through it. You may make some lifelong friends along the way.
In the sidebar, we compiled a list of the top 10 phrases to learn. The first key to success in using them is to choose the easiest one for you to learn, remember it, and then use the heck out of it!
The next key is to maximize use of the interrogatives and always use polite words (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry) to cover any mistakes you make with general words associated with kindness, as way to ensure the maximum willingness and helpfulness from those you query.
Spend a day writing down words in your target language and listen online how to say them. Then, write down how that sounds to your ears, commit it to memory, and you can speak in a day. Use memory keys or associations that help you remember.
For example, the Russian word for “key” is pronounced “clootch.” I associate that with “she uses a key to lock her clutch bag,” and I can always recall the word via that association in my brain.
For media, always start with kid’s stuff, and work your way up. Get as many things with subtitles as you can. It’s like studying a martial art, don’t try to get into the ring and fight competitively until you’ve mastered your own moves first. Slow is fast, fast is slow — you’ll learn bad habits (getting words and meanings wrong), and it’ll take twice as long to unlearn the bad and relearn them correctly.
Working in nine different conflicts over three decades, when we had to find translators in a place where almost no one spoke English, we mainly encountered two kinds — professors and young adults. It wasn’t hard to understand how the professors learned English, but when asked, the kids almost all said they learned English the same way — from MTV!
Hello. My name is _ _ _ _ _ _ _. What is your name? I need help or Can you help me, please? Can, would, or are you able to show me, please? How do I get there or do that, please? Where is that person/ place/thing, please? When is that or this,...
In the U.S., we take this generally accepted hand gesture to mean “OK.” However, it’s not universally understood that way, and you may unintentionally offend someone using it in another country. Do your research and be cognizant of what’s acceptable in...