One great way to improve your travel experience is to gain some local language skills before you travel, and an easy way to do that is with the Lingopie app that lets you learn a language by watching TV. More about Lingopie later though.
“Travel broadens the mind,” as the saying goes, but traveling with language skills opens up a whole new world altogether.
Gaining language skills before you depart for your destination gives you an inside into local culture, and helps you make friends with locals, get around using public transport, eat at local restaurants, and altogether have a far more authentic experience.
You may say to yourself, everyone speaks English – but that is far from being the case – or that you will just use an online voice translator, which can be very useful, but on the other hand mechanical translations can lead to embarrassing errors, and it just isn’t the same as face-to-face communication.
Even knowing a few words of a language can lead to a completely different travel experience. On a taxi journey from Beijing Airport into town, the few words of Chinese that I remembered from my university studies led to an invite for dinner from my driver: A delicious dumpling soup!
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Lingopie App: Learn a new language by watching TV
There are many ways of learning a language, from full-on studies to self-teaching books, and a plethora of online learning apps. One of my favorites is Lingopie, which literally lets you learn a new language by watching TV.
The folks at Lingopie call their language-learning method “binge learning.” The idea is very simple: To make language learning as simple as watching your favorite TV show.
Lingopie uses real TV shows and movies. Each show comes with subtitles in the original language and every word, phrase or slang is clickable to provide you with an instant translation into English in real-time to help you learn. After you watch an episode, you can easily review all your new vocabulary and grammar rules with built-in flashcards and word lists.
Lingopie has hundreds of TV shows and thousands of hours of viewing available in several different languages. At present, you can watch shows in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German, and Russian, while English shows are available as a learning tool for Spanish speakers. Other languages are also due to come online in the future.
Lingopie app is great for all levels, from beginner to advanced, with great content and language learning tools appropriate for everyone.
Why Use Lingopie instead of just watching TV with original-language subtitles?
Hey, you may say to yourself, why not just put on a Spanish telenovelas or French TV program on Netflix and watch it with subtitles in the original language.
First of all, Lingopie offers double subtitles – both in English and in the language you want to learn. And Lingopie offers all sorts of tools that aren’t available just by watching a streaming service.
With Lingopie you get instant translation, and, as you watch a show, you can click on any word or phrase that you don’t understand to pull up its translation. You don’t need to press pause, look up a word in the dictionary, and then go back to the show. All you have to do is watch and learn.
You can slow down the speed of the video to four different levels – which can go as slow as 75% of the original speed. This still sounds natural, but makes it a lot easier for beginners to catch what is being said in the language they are learning. Content also comes in all levels, with shows suitable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
Another feature is automatic repetition, and as we all know one of the best ways to learn something is to drill into your head over and over again. If you ever found yourself waiting on a customer service line hearing the same message over and over in a language you aren’t familiar with, you will have noticed that after hearing that message a few times – hopefully, you weren’t stuck there for hours! – you will probably have picked up a few words.
Lingopie app uses the repetition principle with its Subtitle Auto-Loop tool that helps you practice words by automatically replaying the sentence over again by clicking on the auto-loop icon in the video player while you are watching.
Finally, Lingopie app also comes with flashcards so that every word or phrase you click on as you watch is added to your list, and, once the show is over, you can review your new words and test yourself.
Language learning backed by science
The guys behind Lingopie app consulted with linguists to find ways to exploit the way our brains learn languages naturally.
Don’t worry about the fact that learning a language by watching TV sounds too easy. This is backed by academic research. Their main academic consultant, Dr. Robert Vanderplank, first tested this method with subtitled Finnish TV.
According to Vanderplank, watching TV shows in a foreign language, with simultaneous foreign and native-language captions, provides a very welcome development for autonomous learners, and also exposes you to a very “real” way of speaking.
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Getting around in a foreign language
When we see that it’s easy to pick up language skills with a tool such as Lingopie, we don’t mean that you will become fluent, just by watching TV. Fluency in a new language requires a lot of hard work however you choose to learn.
But in most languages the 80/20 or the Pareto principle holds. This states that 80 percent of results stem from 20 percent of work. In language learning, this translates as 80 percent of situations can be covered by 20 percent of vocabulary. So if you pick up a thousand or so words from real-life situations on TV, you can be pretty sure you will be able to make yourself understood and hold at least basic conversations. Once you have that base, picking up more vocabulary on your travels is easily achievable, and you can use translation tools as backup and a means to understand new words that you have picked up.
Instead of sitting around just watching TV, do it with a purpose and learn a new language!