One of the biggest advantages to learning a new language is that it makes traveling to the countries where it’s natively spoken a lot easier, more fun, and more rewarding. But you don’t have to become fluent in the language in order to make your travels easier and more fun. Even just learning the basics can go a long way towards making your trip a lot better. The locals will also appreciate your willingness to try to work with them, and learn more about them instead of just assuming they will speak English.
Learning Spanish is a great way to go as it is spoken in many, many countries around the world. You could go to Europe or Latin America and still make use of it. You can even use it here, as it is fast becoming one of the most popular languages around the world.
Learn At Home
If you don’t have time to take a class, then learning a language at home is a great way to go. There are several great programs on the market that can help you out and give you structure in terms of what to learn and when.
The thing about learning at home is that you have to stay motivated and make small goals. Language learning is hard and takes a commitment, and it’s very easy to fall of when you get discouraged or even distracted. When you physically attend a class you have some responsibility and accountability to stick to your studies. But when it’s just you it’s very easy to stop studying or “take a day off” (which turns into a week, which turns into a month…).
You should definitely think about how you learn. What classes did you do best in at school, and what were your study methods? There are a couple different types of learning programs out there that utilize various methods.
The Rosetta Stone program uses a learn by listening and speaking approach. You have little to no written material in the program. This is a “learn like a child” approach that can be great for some, but the vast majority of adults do not learn like this, and might find it frustrating. It’s an “immersion” approach that can be fun, but we don’t think it’s the best all around method, especially if you’re trying to learn for a specific event such as a trip.
The best, in our opinion, is a mix of listening, speaking, and reading. This is a good all around approach that mimics what you learn in a classroom. The Rocket Languages series is a great way to get this mix of styles. It’s affordable and is highly rated by several major outlets such as PC Magazine and the New York Times. It’s legitimate and fully featured.