Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There's an App for That: Free World Nomads Language Guides!

Any world traveler knows that a having few words of the local lingo on the tip of your tongue can really elevate your global experiences. Whether you're offering a polite 'please' or 'thank you,' asking directions to the nearest local hotspot, or trading jokes with new travel buddies, it helps to have a few common phrases at the ready.

In the past, this meant schlepping armfuls of phrase-books, thumbing through dog-eared pages and pointing at the more unpronounceable words. Thankfully, technology has significantly changed the traveling game in recent years. With the advent of the iPhone, language learning became digital and portable; now, whether you're searching for the Rathaus in a Bavarian town or shopping at a panaderia in southern Spain, there's an app for that.

World Nomads is an Australia-based company that, in addition to offering travel insurance, hosts a wide-ranging and stimulating travel community site. Here, travelers can upload photos, browse articles, research destinations, and post to personal travel journals.  The site is free and full of good information, but one of the most useful features is their collection of free, downloadable language podcasts.  Available in 25 languages, including Swahili, Croatian, Nepali and even Aussie Slang, these guides can be downloaded as an iPhone App or, for those less technologically enabled (like myself!), as an mp3.  You can pick and chose your desired languages or subscribe to their podcast to collect the whole set!

The free versions provide a 15 minute lesson in the basics, but if that's not enough for you there are low-cost 'plus' versions available for several languages. I'm not affiliated with World Nomads, I just enjoy browsing their site and think they've developed a handy tool that deserves to be shared. So before you hit the road on your next global adventure, get online and check them out!

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