I once tried to learn Spanish by listening to a CD on my way home from work each day, but as the voice droned on with translations of greetings and directions, my mind would inevitably wander to something more interesting and I would arrive home with the realisation that I hadn’t heard much after “Hola”.
Without the benefit of interaction or fun, my “learning” ultimately resulted in being able to order a beer (a useful skill, it must be said) and not much else.
Today, the options for learning languages are much more diverse and interesting, with websites and other technology providing interactive alternatives to CDs, evening classes and traditional schools. Best of all, most online options are cheap or even free, so there goes another excuse.
If you just want to learn some basics such as checking into a hotel or ordering food, the BBC has excellent free online lessons at bbc.co.uk/languages/. You can “walk through” various scenarios, listening to correct pronunciations as you look at the words, and then practise by rearranging a series of phrases into a conversation and matching up the commonly used words with their English meanings. You can also test yourself in scenarios such as trying to order a particular restaurant item shown on the screen.
Another good website is…(more)