It’s coming to that time of year again...No, not Christmas, nor the end of exams, but rather a fun weekend involving your year abroad, your best mate/partner in crime/parents coming to visit and you’re not only looking forward to pretending to be a tourist in your new city (ahem, you’re now officially a local of course) but you’re also planning on doing loads of typical things with them. Going to cute little cafés, munching on local cuisine, visiting the [insert name of famous museum] together. Just one little hitch in the plan - they virtually do not speak any foreign tongue; yes and no are trying at the best of times, their pronunciation is totally off-key and regardless of how many times you have tried to teach them basic words, they can’t seem to muster them up on command. What to do? The weekend can’t just be you translating all the time, can it? That’s where these simple steps and hints come in...
Inject the language bug early on
By getting your loved ones to share an interest in your language of choice from an early stage, it will be easier for them to really practise and get involved right from the start. For example, if Mum and Dad are hell-bent on coming to see you, you can plan a free weekend in the future, and ask them to start learning a few basics in the run-up to their visit. Many websites are devoted to language learning but a great place to start is on the BBC Languages page. You can pick up pronunciation, as well as learn new words, work on grammar sheets and watch short videos in a foreign language, all for free. The perfect way for your close ones to learn without leaving their armchair! Another good site is transparent languages, enabling users to get a word of the day and pronunciation in their target language. Phrasebooks are widely available on the market, with Collins offering a good choice in an array of languages, as cheap as chips. Post-Christmas present anyone?
Reading books isn’t just for Literature students - by getting your friends and future visitors to read daily an article or a short story in another language, they can find out about world happenings and something they enjoy. Why not get them a translation of a book they are already familiar with? Or better still, invest in some audiobooks to get them practising on the go? iTunes and audible have some great deals on classics as well as contemporary finds to suit all tastes. Music can also prove to be a great way to get people into the linguistic swing of things; all-time favourite artists, such as Enrique Iglesias and Edith Piaf can sit side by side to The Doors on laptops and MP3 players to help immerse yourself into the language. Of course, spoken word is a great way to brush up language skills too, by learning idiomatic expressions, getting your friends to listen to the same poppy tunes you’ve been shaking a tail-feather to and keeping up to speed on news in your part of the world. Find out more about the best radio stations across the globe here. You could also buy a monthly subscription to your loved one's favourite magazine in its foreign version - a great present idea!
Exchanges, tutoring and more
Of course, language learning can also be done with the help of groups, tutors and language exchanges. Cafés are dotted around the UK whereby people of all ages and all walks of life enjoy practising their skills with foreigners and avid linguistics alike. Livemocha is equally as good in terms of meeting people over the internet in your area and building your language skills either on or offline. For more information about to learn languages online, make sure you have a look at Language-Learning online. Getting a tutor does not necessarily have to be an expensive way of getting to grips with a language. Additionally, one on one classes may benefit your boyfriend/Dad/friend as they will get over their shyness and go over their mistakes, one at a time. Tutorhunt and First tutors both offer tutors, experienced and fresh out of uni, to suit linguistic needs. Of course, for technology keenos there are trusted language apps for smartphones that can help with games, vocabulary sheets and more. If a family member is a keen sports enthusiast or enjoys cooking, you could always book them onto a language and activity course, like those on offer at GoLearnTo, offering over 100 courses across the globe to keep your language skills in check and have fun whilst doing so! The perfect treat if you’re scared of the elderly getting under your feet...