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The whole point of travel is to experience a culture and environment that is completely outside of your usual day-to-day. That's my view at least.
One major way I like to immerse myself further into a foreign destination is to learn a little bit of the language. It's not only fun, but it's incredibly helpful. From what I've heard, the locals love it when you try to communicate with them in their own tongue. Even if you aren't fluent, they admire that you try.
When I found out I was going to South Korea, I immediately took action to learn about the Korean language and it's complexity. I learned common phrases, vocabulary, and sentence structure through reading online, language learning apps, and physical study guides. I'm hoping it will help me to become closer with the people and the culture.
Everyone learns differently and at the end of the day, you do not have to become fluent. I am far from being fluent, but I would like to share with you some study tools I utilize while studying Korean.
I am one of those people who loves to physically write stuff down on a piece of paper. My mild ADD brain retains information better if I write my notes instead of type them.
Flashcards are my best friends when it comes to learning new phrases and words. I especially love these ring-bound Myndology Index Cards from Walmart. They're small enough (palm-sized) to put in your purse or backpack for easy traveling. I use notebooks for more thorough note taking like sentence structure and grammar subjects.
If you're more tech savvy than most, there are tons of ways you can store notes on your phone or computer like, Word, Google Docs, OneNote, etc...
There is also an online flashcard maker called Cram. You can make your own deck or study a deck of cards that someone else previously made in the same subject. It's also on the app store.
I can't tell you how many Korean language books I have in my apartment. They teach different things and sometimes they don't even agree with each other. It can be frustrating, so do your research when it comes to finding a suitable study guide for the language you're learning.
Talk To Me In Korean
There is one online source that I love to use when learning Korean, Talk To Me In Korean. They have cute videos, podcasts, and free online study materials and lessons (you can get them in book form at a cost). They go all out for the learner and I think that's awesome.
Lonely Planet Phrasebooks
Pocket phrasebooks are also effective tools. They travel easy and help in a pinch.
There are tons of language learning apps to choose from.
I especially like Duolingo. It's free, fun, and effective.
I've heard great things about Memrise.
Language exchange is really effective because you're learning from a native speaker. I enjoy HelloTalk because it's like Facebook and you're getting relevant information. WARNING: Beware the creepers. Not everyone on there is looking for a language exchange partner, if you know what I mean...
For The Overachievers
For those of you who are moving to a foreign country or would like to become fluent just because, I suggest taking actual classes online or at a college that offers that language study.
Rosetta Stone is also an effective tool on the road to fluency.
Final Words of Wisdom
If you are worried about a language barrier, please educate yourself. Never expect someone to speak your language to accommodate you in their home country.
Always, always, always be respectful. Language barriers can be extremely frustrating and sometimes scary. If you find yourself getting frustrated in a situation where languages clash, there are always tools to use to make things easier. Getting angry never solves a problem.
If all else fails, Google Translate.