How useful would it have been to know how to say los baños that time in Mexico?  

No hay cuidado, it’s never been easier to pick up another language online. Whether it’s a few phrases on the train to work, or learning a complete language over a few months of study, there’s a platform for you.

Read first, talk later

Skill level: Beginner – Intermediate

If you’re beginning a new language and want to focus on reading, Busuu is the website for you. A community of 50 million native speakers across 12 major languages allows you to learn from the best — and, if you’re confident enough, test your newly-found skills against a local. Most users will find the site’s free version perfectly adequate, but if learning multiple languages is your goal, then you’ll need to sign up for premium membership. This includes extra features like language profiles, recorded sessions and a progress tracker to gauge your improvement week-on-week. Before you know it, those road signs in Yokohama will be clear as day!

You like to write

Skill Level: Beginner – Intermediate

If you like to learn from the written word up, Duolingo is an invaluable resource. Previously invitation-only, the mobile-led program is now open to the public and completely free. It’s got a focus on European languages and a ‘gamified’ approach: the second allowing users to track progress every day whilst competing with friends to gain experience. Intensive reading and speaking portions are tested through memory games for a fun and different way to explain challenging concepts. You’ll be reading One Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish sooner than you think.

Learn on the go

Skill Level: Beginner – Advanced

Do you just want to learn the basics of everyday interaction? If you’re the type who likes to at least learn the minimum ahead of a trip overseas, Babbel might be the option for you. Select your existing skill level before working your way through the clean and simple quiz-style format. You’ll be ordering in restaurants and buying train tickets without breaking a sweat. It’s the perfect option if you only need to learn the basics and aren’t looking to become fluent.

I just want to speak the language!

Skill Level: Beginner – Intermediate

This is the site for those who want to fast track their conversational skills and aren’t too concerned with retention — perfect for the business traveller in transit, say. Like the name suggests, Memrise is all about memorising. Where other sites hold your hand through the basics, Memrise functions on the age-old flashcard method. Want to book a hotel room or ask for the café’s Wi-Fi password? Select the category and you’ll be shown key words and phrases in repetition ’til the information sinks in.

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Tanya Phull

Head of Social Media

Tanya Phull,
Head of Social Media

As head of social media at Vodafone, Tanya is an expert in customer engagement and emerging platforms. As an American-born expat and wanderluster, Tanya is always equipped with the best tech tips for travellers.