Taking a long RV road trip can be a wonderfully relaxing and economical way to spend your vacation. But it can also have stretches of boredom. When you are behind the wheel of a 2500 kg vehicle, boredom can be dangerous. So why not use that time to learn a new language?
Learning a new language is not only a great way to pass time on the road, but also benefits cognitive abilities like intelligence and memory, and may even help lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
When you are otherwise occupied with the business of staying alive on the highway, you should limit your learning activities to audio only. Start with audio programs like Pimsleur, which is an audio-based course that breaks sessions down into convenient 30 minute sections. Michael Thomas is another audio program that uses a lot of mnemonic devices to help you remember what you are learning.
Once you are more advanced, downloading music in the target language is a great way to start getting your brain used to translations. You don’t have to understand every word – the key is to expose your ears to the words and accents. This is how you learned English – by being immersed in it. It is equally important to expose your ears to native speakers of the language you want to learn.
When you have the use of your thumbs and your full attention, there are many great, often free apps for your phone that can help you learn a language. Duolingo is the most popular of these apps and can be very effective, with intuitive learning. It is most effective, however, when used in conjunction with a few other apps that focus on different aspects of language. Fun Easy Learn, for instance, makes learning vocabulary fun; Busuu explains the structure of the language so you understand the grammar rules.
Watching videos or movies in the language you are attempting to learn is also a great way to become more fluent. Turn the English subtitles on if you must, or simply try to understand from context and immerse yourself in the language. Checking YouTube for cartoons is also a great way to learn, as the language skills will be gauged to that of a beginner.
For the same reason, reading children’s books can be a great way to start to make sense of the words you have learned. The simple language and pictures make learning more intuitive and organic. While you have free wifi, download the Google Translate language you want to learn so you always have access, even when offline. That way, when you come across a word that stumps you, you can easily look it up.
Learning another language can be very helpful in your career, your life and for your brain health. But, it is also a fun and engaging way to pass the time on long trips. And it is always fun to learn how to say “pass me a cold beer” in a new language!