Making a bucket list, we believe, is not just a matter of writing down fifty disconnected events on a piece of paper and checking each one of mechanically like a shopping list. We believe that making a bucket list is a way of life, a way to approach each day. It’s a total mentality.
One of the best ways to cultivate a bucket mentality is to explore other countries, and one of the best ways to discover the best elements of a new culture is to learn the language of the country you wish to delve into. The benefits of learning a foreign language are endless.
First, wherever you wish to travel to, learning the local language will show that you respect the culture of your hosts. Let’s say that one of your big dreams is to visit Brazil. Even if you learn how to say hello, good bye, and thank you in Portuguese, this is bound to endear you to all the new friends you will meet on the sandy beaches of Rio. During my first visit to France, I had heard so much about how rude Parisians were. I started every conversation by saying hello in French or first asking in French if my interlocutor spoke English. By displaying cursory respect by learning a few phrases, all my interactions went smoothly, and Paris surpassed my loftiest bucket list expectations.
At this point you may be a bit skeptical. You may remember boring language classes from high school, and think that becoming a polyglot is boring, tedious and a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today there are hundreds of exciting online resources, videos, language programs and interesting classes to set you on your way. So, how can you get started? Try thinking of starting a language like starting a workout program. Start slowly, just a few minutes a day, find a good partner, add variation, and make things fun.
If you want to pick up some French or Portuguese, find a good online video and listen and repeat the basic phrases every morning. Have a listen during your morning commute or before you hit the sack each night. It just takes fifteen minutes per day. After that, you could try writing down a few words, putting post-it notes up around your house, or even finding a tutor via Skype.
Another fun way to approach your new tongue is doing it with your spouse or significant other. After you have set a date for your romantic trip to Rio, why not sign up for a Portuguese class together? This will give you someone to keep you on your toes, and is a great way to bond in a productive way.
If you get more advanced beyond the basics, there are quite a few more tips to help learn a language. First, start by knowing what type of learner you are. Some people are more visual, others prefer listening and still others only pick things up by speaking. Learn how you learn the best. Don’t be intimidated to keep practicing, and finally, get the proper pronunciation down pat. The Foreign Service Institute, for example, offers free online language learning materials including audio recording, and many programs such as Duolingo, Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone can also help you master pronunciation. Furthermore, it’s a great idea to find some films or a TV show in your new language. This may show more of the local culture, and also display the cadence, rhythm and flow of the language.
Finally, studying a foreign language will not only enhance your traveling, it can, according to brain experts, also improve your health. Studies show that foreign language study increases brain power, improves memories, fights the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and is believed to build your self-confidence. We hope this article inspires you to finally learn Chinese, French, Portuguese, or Spanish, but also to make your bucket list part of each and every day.