If your wanderlust has gotten the better of you, you’re not alone. As summer approaches and lockdowns ease, our minds are turning to what's next — and for many of us, that means dreaming of travel.
Want to make the most of your dream destination? Learn a bit of the local language! Even basic conversation skills can make your trip more memorable and rewarding. We’ll help you gear up for your travels with tips for packing in language practice before you depart.
Travel is taking off!
In the U.K., travel was always the most important motivation for Duolingo learners — only falling behind school and brain training at the height of the first lockdown — but it’s now back to being the most popular motivation to learn as many people recognise the benefits for travel.
As the U.K. comes out of lockdown, and vaccination rates improve in continental Europe, Brits are eagerly planning holidays. Many are choosing to stay closer to home, with European destinations more likely to be added to the green list than destinations further afield.
Skyscanner, the global travel marketplace, recorded a 616% increase in searches for Portugal the week after it was added to the travel green list. Skyscanner also forecasts that demand for destinations will see similar increases when they’re open for travellers.
How to pack in language practice
It may sound like common sense to familiarise yourself with the local language , but not all travellers are prepared. Our 2017 survey found many travellers actually increase their learning after they return from a trip. Learners were so inspired by their travels, imagine how much more they could have enjoyed their trip with some language skills under their belt!
So, to avoid missing out, and to get ahead of the pack, our advice is to start early! Set a daily goal and stick to it.
You can also try lots of fun ways to accelerate your learning and solidify the skills you learn with Duolingo! To get to know your destination, immerse yourself however you can before you travel.
- Turn on the TV. Start watching TV shows and films (with subtitles on, obviously). Money Heist in Spanish, Lupin in French, and Gomorrah in Italian will help you pick up on the culture and the lingo.
- Live the language. Write down key phrases on sticky notes and put them around your house in the weeks before you leave. Toilet paper = χαρτί υγείας, could be invaluable when there’s an emergency in that Greek Taverna.
- Take a walk. Duolingo Podcasts are a great way to pass the time on your daily walk and prepare you for a trip. The new series of French podcasts focuses on travel, so it will perfectly complement your holiday adventures.
- Find a friend. Do you know someone who can speak your chosen language? Ask them for help. If you can’t find someone to help, Duolingo Events are a great way to find people at your level that you can practise with.
- Eat your way in. Cuisine is a delicious way to familiarise yourself with a destination. Get a local language cookbook and assemble some dishes before you go. Double up on your learning and expand your culinary horizons at the same time!
You can check out more fun ideas for sharpening your language skills, plus tips for learning Spanish and tips for improving your long-term memory of new words.
Investing in future adventures
To highlight how language can open up your world for travel, Duolingo has teamed up with Skyscanner to offer travellers a unique opportunity to explore and book holidays by language, not just destination. Through a dedicated website, you can discover the many places languages can take you.
Building up new language skills (or dusting off old ones) is an investment for this summer and future travels. Learning Portuguese unlocks Portugal now, and Rio next year! Learning Spanish? It’s Barcelona this summer and Buenos Aires next. French? What about Marseille this year and Montreal next spring. For Game of Thrones fans learning High Valyrian, you can even find destinations as diverse as Malta, Northern Ireland, and Croatia.
A little lingo goes a long way
Whatever happens this year with your holiday plans, just 15 minutes a day learning a language on Duolingo will be time well spent. It will open up your world for years to come — because a little lingo goes a long way.