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New technology makes learning the local lingo before you travel abroad simple

Travelling overseas? Here's how to pick up the local language in a hurry before you go

Learning a whole new language before you go on vacation can be difficult. But it’s important to learn some basic phrases for those inevitable moments that will come up — such as when you need to order food and drink or ask for directions.

The great part about learning a language these days is that you don’t have to spend hours in a classroom or reading books. Thanks to the Internet, you can find several new options.

Language-learning Software

iSpeak: A great option for those addicted to their iPod. The company sells audio phrasebooks, which include a CD, from $15.95 each. Once you import it to your iPod, you can scroll down and choose which topic you want to study. (Published by McGraw Hill)

Earworms: This outfit offers another way to learn a new language. It markets itself as a "musical brain trainer" — using groove-heavy music as a backdrop while teaching words and phrases that will help you hold a conversation in a different language.

These are just a couple of the high-tech options out there if you’re looking to gain some knowledge of a certain language. The audio components help you get a better handle on pronunciation and, by using the Internet, you’re more likely to learn words that are too current to appear in a printed guidebook.

Language-translating App

If you don't necessarily want to learn an entire language (or simply don’t have time) but still need to communicate, look for a great app called Translator with Speech from Sparkling Apps. It's $1.99 and allows you to record a phrase in English, which it then translates into your choice of 32 different languages before playing it back to you.

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.