Friday, March 17, 2017

babylon bye:bus - a few words about learning basic travel vocabulary

Considering that at least in Germany is advertising a lot, to my surprise I don't know anybody actually learning with this tool. Anybody but me that is. And I will tell you why I love using it.

No kidding, nobody will ever learn a language using babbel. Learn in the sense of I speak it, I read it, I understand native speakers. Depending on which language your dealing with on babbel, you hardly learn any grammar, you get to listen to very few whole sentences, you're hardly ever engaged in any form of conversation: practically every key to having command of a language is missing.

But - and this but does not only have a capital B because it's at the beginning of this sentence, this but is a but with a capital B because there's the other side of babbel: it's a great tool for you savvy traveller who wants to say thank you and please and good morning and pleased to meet you and bread and water not always in the lingua franca English but in the local tongue. And for this basic knowledge of a language babbel is just great because it has exactly what you need. 
Instant friendship: A simple "selamat malam" (=good evening) impressed these lovely ladies from Jakarta vacationing in Kuala Lumpur so much that they insisted on lots of information - and a couple of pictures.

It starts with a really basic vocabulary such as good morning, good night, thanks etc. You are practicing these with pictures on little tiles; makes you feel like a toddler learning to speak. But since the system is based on your brain relating to these pictures and thus visualizing the word and its meaning as well as on lots of repetitions, it actually works and makes remembering really easy. But exactly this effect is at the same time an obstacle: Try to remember the stupid word without the picture - you'll feel like having a hole in your brain; you know exactly what it is...but what is it again? Anyway, I will not discourage you, when you learn only a handful of words and expressions it works really well.

So before you try it out here are some information. Surprise - you need to set up an account. There is a free trial of the first lesson and this might even be all you need. That's how I started with Indonesian but I got addicted and wanted more and more. You can choose for how long you want to learn, the monthly costs are between 4,95 € if you subscribe for a year and 9,95€ for only one month. With the paid version you have access to all themes - some are really useful being designed for travel and meeting the people. I practiced Indonesian maybe about one month and learned really a lot. But actually everything beyond the standard pleasantries was pretty useless and like I explained above, out of context (and without the corresponding pictures) you remember only a part of what you have practiced; you have practiced, you didn't learn. However, the useful pleasantries are absolutely worth it, people in Bali and in Malaysia and Singapore where amazed that I was able to say a couple of words.

Babbel offers 14 languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Turkish, and Indonesian. You can choose whether you want to repeat the words over a microphone or only klick on tiles resp. type the words. I've learned Indonesian and Turkish, and the choice was surprisingly different: Turkish offers a much wider range of lessons including much more grammar and even short dialogues while Indonesian is basically a long list of vocabulary and a couple of sentences. You can add your own vocabulary to your personal database - but they then come obviously without the helpful pictures. I used this a lot learning Turkish since I was learning with other media like language books, magazines etc., too, so I stored the vocabulary I learned there in my babbel database. 
Because I've learned Indonesian exclusively with babbel there was nothing to add.

So if on your next trip you want to impress and get right into people's hearts, give it a try, it's so much fun. Try it out right now!

If you have any questions regarding travellers' communication I'd be very happy hearing from you. 
How about you, do you learn some local vocabulary when travelling? 
How do you do it, what are your sources?

If besides learning the local language a little you want to rely on a translator, check out my "World's Most Complete Travel Information"
The best way to learn (!) a language is
P. S. According to babbel I have a Turkish vocabulary of about 3,600 words (these are stored in my database) - wow, that would make me more than fluent! Guess what, I'm far from that. That much for learning in the sense of learning. 

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