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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie


 Travel Diary : Communicating abroad

Very recently, I received an email from a language school based in London. Those one were curious to know what methods I was using to communicate in a foreign country where I obviously wouldn't know the language.

After having thought about my different experiences, I believe that an article wouldn't be too much to develop this subject that is somewhat very important for a traveler :”the communication”.

I realize that I got more experience in learning languages during this journey. Today I can speak fluently French, English, Spanish and am able to be understood in Portuguese and German. However, I used different methods for each one of them, that I will describe down below. Here are the assets, the mistakes and my advices to learn a language or at least improve your skill to communicate abroad.

The languages that I know

English is the language that I can perform the best, even if my french accent is very strong. Nevertheless, it wasn't my first language in school. I indeed have chosen German. I studied

English for 6 years at school, then I went to live for 1 year in Wales. I found myself in immersion with “English speakers”. Then, I have been now traveling for 4 years around the world, using English almost every day.

It was important for me to have the bases when I arrive in the United Kingdom. The English classes

that I had at school helped me. However, the experiences abroad led me to improve this language by using it in a daily basis.

Click here to listen this radio show in San Francisco in the United States to listen to my English level

I had German classes for 11 years at school. I have never lived in Germany even if I spent few days in the country for holidays.

My level of German is very weak, even if I understand the bases of the language. I definitely miss a long stay in a German-speaking country to help me to speak fluently German.

I never took Spanish at school. In the other hand, I spent more than a year traveling in Latin America. I learned the bases on my own with the help of a dictionary and a grammatical book during my Transatlantic by boat-hitch-hiking.

My level of Spanish is pretty good but it is mostly useful. Indeed, I can have discussions about many different topics and to deal with the daily life situations aren't a problem for me. In the wrong side, I am still doing a lot of grammatical mistakes, surely because of the way I learned.

Click here to listen to this Radio Show in Ciudad Guayana in Venezuela to check my level of Spanish

I never took Portuguese at school. I traveled for two months in Brazil and three weeks in Mozambique. I used a grammatical book before to enter Brazil and I was learning the new words of vocabulary as they were coming along my discussions. My level of Portuguese is weak but it is already enough to understand and be understood is a Portuguese-speaking environment.

The Spanish also helped me a lot to understand the Portuguese.

Click here to watch this TV Show in Brazil where I speak in Portuguese

You understand it. To learn a new language in the right way, it is important to get the good bases, to learn an enough amount of vocabulary and of course practicing. How to get through this different steps?

Different important steps to learn a language

How to learn the bases ?
First, you can have an idea of the bases by reading a grammatical book of English, Spanish or else. You will quickly be rewarded if you do it. Indeed, the understanding of a sentence in a language that you learn is already a victory.

Taking classes in a language school can also be a good way to learn because you will have the help of professionals. Those one know the different steps to follow to learn the language that they teach. Also, it will give you a good opportunity to listen to the right way of pronouncing the language. It can be a good example to follow.

How to learn the vocabulary?
Learning the vocabulary is a very important step towards the understanding and the utilization of a language.

My personal method to learn a word of vocabulary is to write this one two times on a piece of paper. On one side, I will write it in the language I want to learn and on the other side I write it in the language I want to learn. Then, when I have enough word to learn, I try to know the translation of each one of them.

The method of the little papers


To know which word to learn, it is necessary to practice the language. Each time you don't understand a word that seems important to you, write it down and learn it later. Once you know it, use it as soon as possible.

How to practice ?
Without doubt, the best way to practice is to go in a country where the language that you want to learn is spoken. I think that living for a while abroad is a necessary tool to get accustomed with a language but also the culture that leads to its understanding.

If you haven't the opportunity to go, you still can try to find flatmates that speak the language you want to learn, or to try to meet those native-speakers as much as you can. You can also try to host travelers at your place through websites like couchsurfing.

To go in language school is also a very good way to get good bases.

There are thousands of languages in the world. It has been for me very difficult to be able to communicate everywhere and to explain what hitch-hiking was meaning in every country. Some languages are more difficult to learn, as Russian, Arabic, Chinese or even Japanese.

When I am traveling, I am using some methods to be able to keep going further. In Ethiopia for example, I ask to a local friend to translate the explanation of my journey in “Ahmaric”.

The translation of my journey in Ahmaric, Arabic, Greek and Turkish

Every method is good to communicate even though the idea is to succeed to have the ability to converse to really understand and be understood.

See you soon,


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