Senior Travelers: Learn the Language!

Jan 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Senior Travel

In today’s society it is essential to learn foreign languages.  Some still believe if a person lives in a nation in which English, for instance, is the official language, then he or she really has no need to acquire another language to live a full and complete life. However, this belief is not true of the world today, especially if you enjoy traveling.  Of course you are reading thoughts that a former language teacher is expounding and who feels strongly that knowing even a little of the tongue of the country you are visiting will make your experience more enjoyable.  

Someone once asked a Japanese businessman the most important language to know in today’s world.  They well expected the response to be English.  His response…”My client’s language.”  He learned this well.  We Americans have still not learned his business philosophy and acumen.  What do we call a person who speaks three languages?  Trilingual.  Two languages?  Bilingual.  One language?  An American.  Sad, but true. 

Seniors can have fun picking up useful travel expressions.  I have taught courses that focus on learning elementary language skills and having fun doing it is the answer.  It is good for the brain and one’s confidence.

I recall well when students came to our elementary school and who knew absolutely no Enlgish.   As department chair I was often asked the best means to “integrate” students into the classroom and to build some communicative competency.  Most often my response was…”leave him/her alone.”  Let them emerge into the environment without any pressure or attempt to stress language acquisition.  At this level and in this particular case I felt that acquisition was best left as an unconscious process that occurs when language development is used in real conversation with peers and in hearing the natural language in an immersion classroom.  As for adults, my response was always to either “get a girl/boyfriend from that country or spend one year living there.”   

One language school abroad writes…”The most enjoyable and by far the best way to learn a language is to do so on a total immersion language program abroad.  In this way, you are totally immersed in the language, which greatly speeds up the learning process.  Learning a language in this way is the most effective method, whether you are a complete beginner, or already have an advanced level – but it’s also a lot of fun!”  Another has a neat website that I wish to share with you just to capture your interest in something new.  Language Travel Magazine flips pages for you as you read at and I think that its pretty cool. 

My own language website for studying Spanish abroad has dozens of choices for you.  You pick the country and I can almost assure you that there is a program there for learning the language.  The immersion programs are some of the most popular.  In Mexico the city of Cuernavaca is well known for the many schools for studying Spanish.  I enrolled in http://www.cuauhnahuac.edu.mx/ which is the oldest school there.  If you really want to enrich yourtotal inmersion in the Mexican culture you can choose to live with a Mexican family during your stay.  Classes are small and individualized so that you are with students who are on your same level after a short oral evaluation.  Cuernavaca is called the city of “City of Eternal Spring” as it has long been a favorite escape for Mexico City and foreign visitors because of this warm, stable climate and abundant vegetation.  Adios! More on Mexico in another blog.  jeb



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