Language for lockdown: a travel blogger collaboration #2

As lockdown comes to an end (for how long, who knows), I thought it would be the perfect time to come together with other bloggers to see what we have been achieving in this time. As it turns out, quite a lot of people have been learning a second or third language, just like me! In Language for Lockdown Part One we had travel bloggers advocate for Italian, French, Spanish, Filipino and Arabic, and this time we’ve added German and Russian to the mix! Be sure to look out for the flags on each blogger’s image, and if you’re particularly interested in Italian, make sure you read to the end of the post to get my free downloadable file Italian Baking for Beginners!


Sue at ebikeholiday.co.uk

Sue sells e-bike holidays for the “gentle traveller” in the National Forest, and has spent time living and studying in Berlin.

How many languages do you know and how fluent are you?

I speak German and French. Many moons ago, I studied and worked in Germany for 2 years. I lived very close to the Dutch border, so understand a lot of Dutch, but can’t speak it. My spoken German is fairly fluent – I can happily have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have a strong regional accent. In recent years I have spent quite a lot of time working in Germany, and mentoring the French marketing team in my previous job. The sales and marketing teams didn’t speak any English, so we would conduct the meetings in French. I’m fairly competent, providing they don’t speak too quickly! My sister now owns a house outside Nice, which I visit regularly. I generally get pulled in to help with conversations with gardeners, workmen etc!  

How easy was it to learn those languages?

I spoke very little German prior to moving there. I made a point of mixing with as many German people as possible and only speaking German. This really helped me gain confidence and ability. All my lectures were in German from day one, so I was hearing the language all the time. With French I was the only person at work with any linguistic ability, so there was really no choice! 

How often do you practice?

I practice both whenever I have a chance. I had been living in Germany for about 4 months, when I realised that I was talking naturally in German, without thinking about it, and we tend to go to France once or twice a year. I’ve been part of a Visit Britain project targeting German and Dutch tourists, so that gave me a chance to practice my German. The key thing is not to be frightened to try and to to be frightened to say if you can’t understand something. Most people are really patient. 

What made you choose to learn German & French over other languages?

I chose to study and work in Germany because French was my strongest language and I wanted to be able to speak two foreign languages well. 

Have you managed to put them into practice with a local – and how was that experience?

Yes, lots! In France, I will always catch up with my sister’s housekeeper and gardener in French and they know that they can hold a conversation with me. I’m very happy heading into shops or restaurants in both countries and starting a conversation. Equally, if I hear someone who is lost or looking for help in the UK, who is French or German, then I’ll always stop and offer directions in their language. It’s a rewarding experience to be able to understand someone’s issues or questions and be able to help resolve them.

What is your favourite line?

Mine is “mit angehaltenem Atem” – with baited breath.  

Do you think that German or French will be beneficial to you in the long-term?

It’s always great to speak a foreign language. It sparks creativity and builds confidence. 

Would you consider learning another language?

No because my husband loves being on an even footing when we go to other countries!


Matt at Two Tickets To

Matt is a travel blogger living in Yorkshire, England. He and his partner, Lucy, blog about their journeys across Europe and beyond.

How many languages do you know and how fluent are you?

I know three languages (not including English) at a decent level. I’m fluent in German and can speak Advanced French, whilst I’m trying to improve my Russian during lockdown! I’ve dabbled in a few other languages in the past (e.g. Swahili) but found it easier just to concentrate on a small number!

How easy was it to learn, and what resources did you use?

I started learning German and French at High School, so it’s much easier just to keep my level up by listening to podcasts and reading articles. Russian is much more difficult, because I started learning it from scratch a couple of years ago. I mainly use apps like Duolingo and Busuu to try and pick it all up.

How often do you practice?

It takes a long time to get comfortable having conversations with people – listening and speaking at a native pace really needs a lot of practice! With Russian, I’ll try to do at least 10/15 minutes a day – this includes speaking, reading and listening. Consistency is key to building up vocab and getting used to the language.

What made you choose to learn German, French & Russian over other languages?

I didn’t have too much of a choice with German and French, but enjoyed them both enough to keep going! With Russian, I found that knowing the Cyrillic alphabet and a few phrases was really useful for travelling in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus etc., so I decided I would try and improve beyond a basic level and be able to have conversations with locals!

Have you managed to put them into practice with a local – and how was that experience?

I always enjoy practicing Russian with locals when I’m travelling. Most people don’t expect you to speak a word of Russian, and even a few basic phrases can go down really well! Perhaps the most surreal moment was when I was asked to demonstrate a few of my Russian phrases on TV in Transnistria – hopefully they were able to understand my accent!

What is your favourite line/sentence, or the one that always sticks in your head?

Because I learn Russian through apps, I find that I have the moment random phrases which stick in my head. The one which always stands out is actually incredibly boring – “Это не мой свитер” – which roughly translates to “this is not my jumper”. I look forward to the day when I can actually use it… although I suspect I may be waiting a while!

Do you think any of these languages will be beneficial to you in the long-term?

German and French have already been incredibly useful for travelling and learning more about the cultures of countries. I hope that improving my Russian can have a similar impact – it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for adventure!

Would you consider learning another language?

Definitely – my main challenge is finding the time to do it! I’d love to carry on with Swahili (it’s a beautiful language to listen to), but might need to wait until I’ve got my Russian up to a good level.

To read Matt’s post about his favourite language-learning apps, click here!

Leesa at Dreams Abroad

Leesa is part of the Dreams Abroad organisation which empowers global professionals to teach or study abroad. She is from South Florida and achieved a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction – specializing in foreign and second languages.

How many languages do you know and how fluent are you?

My native language is English and I’m moderately proficient in Spanish. It takes years sometimes to learn a language, even as long as a lifetime to truly become fluent. I look at bilingual and trilingual people that learned their languages from birth as being truly fluent.

How easy was it to learn Spanish, and what resources did you use?

I took Spanish in high school and I come from a Spanish heritage household. This means my mom and grandma are of Puerto Rican descent. My grandfather was Dominican but moved to Puerto Rico at a young age. He was an American citizen. My grandma was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and my mom was born in Miami. I lived in a household where Spanish was spoken but I didn’t learn how to speak it. It was not until I was in my early 30s and studying language that I decided to practice and learn Spanish. I began by taking a ‘Spanish 101’ class over the summer as a refresher. Then, I went on an internship to Medellin, Colombia where I took an intensive summer set of courses before proceeding to my internship.

How long did it take, and how often do you practice it?

In my experience, learning a language is continuous. I started really studying Spanish grammar in 2014 and I am still practicing to this day. I lived in Madrid, Spain for a year and taught English. During this time, I was immersed in the culture. I took one month, August 2016, to acclimatize and then did another intensive Spanish language course. This course taught me the everyday Spanish I would use regularly to make myself feel at home in my new setting.

What made you choose to learn Spanish over other languages?

I chose Spanish over other languages because it was the most natural to me. I heard it growing up and it is a part of who I am.

Have you managed to put it into practice with a local – and how was that experience?

Yes, I lived abroad in Colombia and Spain. I was not as proficient in Colombia as I was in Spain. Therefore, when I lived in Colombia, I felt less at ease when I was interacting with locals. After living a year in Spain, and visiting a few times afterwards, I feel more confident in my ability.

What is your favourite line/sentence?

My favorite line is “no pasa nada.” The reason I like this so much is because in Madrid I was able to use this phrase and start to adapt to the culture and new way of life in Madrid which is “no pasa nada.” The lifestyle in Madrid is very different than the 9-5 life in the US. It’s no pasa nada.

Do you think that Spanish will be beneficial to you in the long-term?

Yes, of course. I teach English as a second language in my spare time. Many students who are just starting out are Spanish speakers. If you speak or know their language it helps with teaching because when they are writing or speaking in English you can understand why they are making their errors and help to correct them. 

Have you created any resources to help others learn a language?

I help people to learn English. My Dreams Abroad team has interviewed teachers who taught in Spain and other locations around the world. Also, teachers who teach English as Second Language to Spanish speakers in the United States have provided guidance and resources on how to teach. Our website, dreamsabroad.org, shares resources and experiences for those who are looking to teach a language abroad to TEFL students or in the USA to ESL students.

Would you consider learning another language?

Yes, I did learn French during my undergraduate studies. I wanted to study abroad in France but it didn’t happen. I ended up (years later) making a number of visits to France. It was a great experience!


Congrats on making it to the end! Here’s my free downloadable file:

If you’d like to be included in a future post like this please drop me a DM @meaghanbethany or comment below!

READ NEXT: Language for lockdown: a travel blogger collaboration (part one)


6 thoughts on “Language for lockdown: a travel blogger collaboration #2

  1. Very interesting. I speak a bit of French and some German but practice is always the issue. I’m Toronto based so English is it. Travelling to Quebec, the next province over from me, gets you into French very quickly. German is tougher still but I am always willing to travel there. Interesting to read the different perspectives on languages. You can’t go wrong studying languages and then using them in life. Cheers,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really interesting, and I kinda regret not taking the time to learn a new language whilst in lockdown. I really admire people you can speak a second/third language, it’s so impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s