The UnCollege Blog

How To Brush Up On Your Language Skills Before You Travel


Summer has arrived and for many of us, that means we have a bit more time to travel, immerse ourselves in a new culture and hopefully, soak up some sun. Typically when I travel, it’s to a place where English is not the first language and I can make every moment a learning opportunity by working on my language skills. Knowing a second language not only enhances your time abroad, but comes in handy back at home. In fact, 12% of Americans says their first language is Spanish!

To make the most of your trip abroad, it’s important to learn some key terms or if you know the language already, brush up on your skills. If you don’t know where to start, here are some of my favorite resources to get you going.

We’ve all heard of meetup groups and facebook groups aimed to gather language learner’s together, but Conversation Exchange blows them all out of the water. Why? It pairs native speakers with people looking to learn  that language and vice versa. For example, if you are looking to learn Spanish, you can message someone living  in your area who grew up in Mexico and needs to brush up on his or her English! You can choose to meet with people based on common interests, language level, age and location. Although there’s  Meet face-to-face or over Skype.


When face-to-face conversation practice isn’t an option, where do you turn? Sure, the TV is great, but the ready is even better. TuneIn allows users to listen to real radio shows and music from all over the world. It’s a fantastic opportunity to accomplish two things at the same time: practice and get your daily dose of news, updates or music. For example the other day, I listened to a live sports talk show based in Madrid. They were talking about the NBA and the current finals matchup, which I would have tried to listen to even if I weren’t brushing up on my Spanish. My favorite feature of TuneIn is the rewind feature. Users can actually jump back 30 seconds during a broadcast in order to relisten to something they may not have understood.


If you like games and need to start learning a language from scratch for free, DuoLingo is a great place to start. Duolingo uses gamification to walk learner’s through lessons. Each lesson is made up of a range of activities, such as translation, vocabulary and introductory grammar. The gamification of Duolingo isn’t the only reason why it’s such a practical learning platform. It is also available on mobile devices, making it easy to get a quick lesson in on the bus or anytime you have a couple of free minutes while you’re out and about.

Foriegn Services Institute

If you are searching for some great language learning materials for more obscure languages, look no further than the FSI. This basic site is a phenomenal resource for those looking to become fluent in a language. Learners can benefit from audio recordings, worksheets and listen-speak materials. However, this site is better for people who learn best through repetition as many of the lessons revolve around high-rep activities.

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