How to Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book

No matter where someone is going or what language they are trying to learn, a phrase guidebook can be handy. These small, compact guides help to provide basic phrases that can help out in a tricky situation abroad. But there are other ways to learn the basics of a language, and some of them actually work better than relying on canned or stock phrases from a travel guide, especially if the phrase book is outdated. Here are some ways to get around the lack of a good guidebook and learn key foreign phrases without a phrase book.


  1. Image titled Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book Step 1
    Ask those who have been there. Experienced travelers who have picked up a bit of the language can tell you about what you will actually use on your trip. Their knowledge is often more applicable than what you will find in a guidebook.
    • Plan for language immersion. After you have picked up some key phrases from veteran travelers, you'll easily pick up a little more during your actual trip. Taking a recording device and notebook can help you speed up your immersion process. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you'll be poised to become an expert in the local language in no time.
  2. Image titled Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book Step 2
    Use available software. Some of the popular language software programs available online can help you pick up basic phrases and tools for communication in your desired foreign language. The renowned training program Rosetta Stone is just one of many options for learning through digital means, rather than paging through a paper phrase book.
  3. Image titled Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book Step 3
    Get access to audio. One of the key features of language that a phrase book may or may not provide is the actual pronunciation. Some phrase books have detailed phonetic pronunciation guides to help the hapless traveler actually say what they mean. Without this resource, travelers will need another way to figure out how locals talk.
    • Think about CDs or other audio. Audio materials help people learn natural accent and pronunciation for a foreign language, and they can also help with "passive acquisition" – leaving foreign language audio on for a long time can help some beginners pick up more language with less actual concentration. Foreign movies and music on TV or radio can also be effective.
  4. Image titled Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book Step 4
    Make your own phrase book. Basically, if you're lacking a printed guidebook, you can compile all of what you are learning from the above sources. Keep a notebook with specific categories of language, just like a guidebook would have, and you'll eventually create your own book with more precision than anything that you would find on the shelf at the local book store.
  5. Image titled Learn Key Foreign Phrases Without a Phrase Book Step 5
    Find a travel dictionary. Even if you don't have a phrase book or guidebook for specific key phrases, you can still carry a comprehensive dictionary with all of the words you may need to look up during your stay abroad. Or, you can consult the dictionary when adding phrases into your own notebook.
    • Some dictionaries are also available online. Do a quick keyword search for specific foreign languages to get help from the Internet.

Article Info

Categories: World Languages