You can learn a lot more from language learning than just a foreign language.
So many people will tell you that the best way to learn a foreign language is through immersion. Immersion is a process in which you place yourself in a different country where only your target language is spoken.
However, there is so much more that can be learned from travelling than just another tongue.
Lee Morrow is a hyperpolyglot and full-time traveller, and he is just one of the many people who can tell you the benefits of learning a foreign language, and that foreign language learning truly is an experience filled with memories that will last you a lifetime.
So, if you’re trying to figure out how to learn a foreign language through travelling, Lee is here to tell you all of the life lessons he has learned while doing it himself and how he has used travelling to teach him over 20 languages.
Handing it over to you, Lee!
Languages have always been a part of my life. Even at a crazy young age.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t speaking seven languages fluently at the age of four like Bella Devyatkina was. I’ve been extremely lucky to have traveled all over and to have seen some amazing things.
Between the ages of four and six, I went on a few holidays with my grandparents to mainland Spain and some of the local islands. My grandparents always enjoyed talking to locals in their languages and they really passed that onto me at a very young age.
I will always remember being in Spain and having a French boulangerie a minute or so from the apartment we were staying in.
My grandma took French to a B2 or low C1 level while at school and even to this day, I speak both French and Spanish with her. This would be the place that I would first speak French. I said, ‘Je voudrais une baguette avec du beurre s’il vous plaît…’ and up until I got that baguette, I would just nod and say ‘oui’ to everything she said.
My grandparents and I laugh about that a lot now. Of course, on the go, we did speak a lot of Spanish at the beach or at an ice cream shop. But when we would, my grandma did most of the talking.
These memories have always stayed with me and are a huge motivation in my day to day life.
Since the age of four, I have been on countless planes to many countries. I have been able to pick up languages as I go and meet new people along the way. So today, I am going to share with you what I have learned as a hyperpolyglot whilst travelling.
Now that I can communicate in roughly twenty or so languages, at various degrees of fluency, I am able to travel to almost any large county and most of Europe without language barrier.
Yes, I have been to countries where I can’t speak the language and I will admit, I couldn’t enjoy them nearly as much when I had to rely on another language that wasn’t the local one or when I had to rely on an interpreter.
The life lessons languages and travelling have taught me
I have learned that in order to see a country through the eyes of a local, you need to learn a bit of the local language. No questions asked. Before, or perhaps during a plane ride, I will always either make sure I know the basics of the local language. I find that this always helps me get around a new country.
Another thing that I have learned is to appreciate all cultures. I am going to one of the smallest countries on the planet in about a month or so. It’s called Luxembourg. You may have heard of it through football. Most people will look at a country like Luxembourg and completely dismiss the fact that it has its own identity and its own culture. It’s the same as countries like Monaco and the Vatican City. A lot of these countries also have their own languages. While Luxembourg has an official language, it does have its own. It’s Luxembourgish. I have never studied Luxembourgish, but I will pick up some basic travel phrases to assist me.
Another great thing about travelling is the fact that you can meet new people from all over the world and build connections. I can travel all around Europe and be able to have friends wherever I go. Of course, this is a brilliant thing as you don’t have to pay for accommodation and you won’t be so lonely. If you speak the language, that will increase your chances of making friends and seeing the entire place in a different light.
One of my all time favourite people on this planet is my friend named Anae. I met her in October of 2017 whilst she was visiting Scotland. I talk to her as much as I can, and the best thing is, she’s French. If I travel to her area of France, I can meet with her and enjoy a cup of coffee while speaking French, Occitan, Spanish and German. But perhaps the greatest this is, I have a friend who can show me local musts and show me her town and local areas in a more realistic manor.
I must say that travelling has taught me so much. I’ve been able to use languages that five years ago, I hadn’t even thought of learning. If you get the chance to see another country, even if it’s five minutes from your house, snatch it and run! You will experience another culture, another way of life, different people and best of all, new languages.
I recommend you take what I’ve written and take it into consideration. Languages and travel are my life. You’ll find that a lot of racists and bigots have never travelled and therefore, don’t know anything at all about other ways of life nor the struggles. Trust me, if you want to enjoy life, don’t live with that hatred inside of you. I guess that’s the best thing I’ve taken away from languages.
It’s crazy to think that languages themselves can shine a light on other cultures and people’s ways of life. If you’d like to learn more about a particular country, I recommend just learning some of the local language. You will understand what I’m trying to put down if you speak multiple languages.
If you’d like to hear or see more about my travels and language learning background, I recommend following my YouTube account, Lee Morrow, where I post videos about travel, language learning, lifestyle vlogs and general education.
Lee Morrow is a polyglot from Scotland with a large interest in languages and travel. He travels the world while learning other languages and vlogs his experiences. His life goals include changing the way people look at language learning, writing a book, and meeting interesting people along the way. If you want to learn a language but don’t know how to get started, check out his YouTube channel, Lee Morrow.