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The best language courses for travel and holidays

Prepare for your next trip now with online language courses and language learning apps compared by trusted. The tested providers teach you the most important vocabulary in the shortest possible time and help you shine with your language skills on your next holiday.

Travelling is something beautiful - whether for relaxation, hiking, culture or simply to see something new. It's not for nothing that they say: If someone goes on a journey, he can tell a story. The only question is in which language. Because more and more holidaymakers and travellers not only want to enjoy the sights and cuisine of the country they are visiting, but also the culture and the people in their own language. For many people, learning a language for an upcoming trip - even if it is only to avoid being noticed as a "tourist" - is already part of their travel preparations. Are you one of them? Then here are the best online language courses to help you.

The best language courses for travel and holidays

trusted introduces you to the best online language courses and learning apps that are ideal for preparing you for your next trip or upcoming holiday:

Babbel is one of the best-known language learning apps in the world and test winner in the latest trusted comparison. With Babbel you can learn up to 14 different languages, including languages of popular holiday destinations such as Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch or even Indonesian. The app teaches vocabulary at different learning levels with the help of simple learning games in which you have to match the right words or fill in gaps. It's pleasantly simple on both PC and smartphone.

Babbel is ideal for preparing you for a holiday or a longer trip. The course is strongly application-oriented. The focus is on vocabulary that is as suitable as possible for everyday use and confident pronunciation; grammar rules or long-winded theoretical lessons, on the other hand, are a rarity. Above all, Babbel wants you to be able to communicate - in a restaurant, in a hotel, in everyday conversation. It doesn't matter whether you are a complete beginner or already have some knowledge that needs to be refreshed.

The language travel offer "Babbel Travel" is brand new. Here you can book a language study trip to your chosen country for between 100 and 1,000 euros and learn at exclusive language schools on site, surrounded by the culture and society of your destination. For example, you can learn English in London or Dublin, French in Paris or Cannes and Spanish in Madrid or Valencia.

But even without a language study trip, you can learn effectively and entertainingly with Babbel - and with lots of useful additional material. In addition to the app, your learning journey is accompanied by podcasts that tell the experiences and stories of other language travellers. This will help you train your listening comprehension and get you in the right mood for the conversations in your destination country.

Conclusion: Babbel is currently the best online language course for preparing for your next trip or holiday. Try out the first lesson in your target language now for free or sign up for a seven-day free trial on smartphone/tablet. After that, Babbel costs between 7 and 14 euros per month in a subscription.

Mondly is one of the language courses with the most learning languages on offer. The app currently offers a total of 41 languages, including classics such as English, Spanish, French and others, but also exotic languages such as Croatian, Japanese, Hindi and Russian. This makes Mondly ideal for preparing you for holidays in unusual travel destinations. These exotic languages are often neglected in other online courses.

Similar to Babbel, Mondly aims to prepare you for real conversations as quickly and effectively as possible, and to give you the necessary tools in the form of a vocabulary ready for conversation. There are hardly any grammar lessons here; instead, vocabulary exercises, conversation exercises with the in-house chatbot and entertaining learning games are on the programme. You will not only train your vocabulary, but also your listening comprehension and - thanks to microphone support and speech recognition - the correct pronunciation.

Especially nice: With Mondly AR and Mondly VR, the language course offers augmented and virtual reality apps with which you can immerse yourself much more directly and deeply in the environment of the learning language. In Mondly VR, many scenarios are available for this purpose that you often encounter on holiday and when travelling. These include checking into a hotel or a casual conversation with a chance acquaintance on the train.

Mondly is also well suited for families going on holiday with children; as a Mondly Premium user, you have free access to the special MondlyKIDS app, which makes language learning child-friendly with a colourful interface and exciting learning games.

Conclusion: Mondly is a great Babbel alternative that comes up with many innovative tricks and an efficient learning system. See for yourself now: the first lessons of the Mondly app are free to try out without registering with the provider. After that, Mondly costs between 4 and 10 euros per month, depending on the contract period.

Busuu is in a similar vein to Babbel and Mondly. You can currently learn 12 languages with Busuu - from English, Spanish, French and Co. to Japanese or Arabic. Just like Babbel and Mondly, an audiovisual and playful learning method is used: vocabulary is explained with the help of pictures and spoken by native speakers, has to be correctly assigned in learning games and conveys the most important basic vocabulary for everyday situations.

What sets Busuu apart from the competition, however, is its strong community integration. In addition to a language learning app, Busuu is one thing above all: a social network with 80 million members around the world. In addition to your daily lessons and vocabulary exercises, you can chat with native speakers, exchange ideas in the forum or form tandem partnerships to apply what you have learned directly in conversation.

The great thing about this is that you are not only taught a theoretical vocabulary, but also learn variations of the words you have learnt or common colloquialisms in an exchange with a native speaker. If you search specifically for community members from your travel region, you can even learn a local dialect.

This is a more long-term process than with Babbel or Mondly - whose concept consists largely of memorisation - but it is fun and ideal preparation for real conversations in the target country. Most importantly, it helps you make contacts. If you find friends in your online conversation partners, you can arrange to meet them directly during your stay or have your tandem partner show you around the city.

Conclusion: Busuu is not only a solid language learning app but also an ideal opportunity to practise your language skills in everyday conversation before you travel and have them improved by native speakers. Hardly any other language course in the current comparison offers this opportunity. Busuu is available as a free limited basic version (without community access) or as a premium version for between 5 and 7 euros per month.

Yabla is a video language course for English, Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese. What is particularly convincing about Yabla is its innovative learning concept: instead of learning with prefabricated lessons, you learn with freely accessible videos from the Internet (for example, from YouTube), which are enriched with subtitles and a vocabulary list in the in-house Yabla player. The clever thing about it: instead of relying on the language course exercises, with Yabla you learn exactly those subject areas that interest you and that you will need on your next holiday.

Watch the video and you will be supported by subtitles and a transcript. You can pause the video each time, click on unknown words in the transcript and have them translated, and take a small vocabulary test after each video lesson. Thanks to the authentic learning content, you will learn with direct reference to everyday life and have fun with the subject - and at the same time effectively train your listening comprehension and pronunciation of the respective words.

Of course, this also has its downsides. For example, Yabla requires a much higher level of self-discipline than many other language learning apps, in which you always make progress in individual, self-contained lessons in which the learning content is predetermined. With Yabla, on the other hand, self-determination is the order of the day.

With Yabla, you learn in a rather disjointed way. There is no fixed learning path and you do not work your way through individual "levels" or stages as you do with Babbel, Mondly or Lingualia, but only learn what interests you. This can be both a disadvantage and an advantage. On the one hand, you potentially only accumulate insular and half-knowledge; on the other hand, you can simply hide topics and vocabulary that you do not need on your journey, and thus learn more purposefully and efficiently.

Conclusion: If you can motivate yourself and have no problem putting together your own course and learning topics, the Yabla learning concept is well suited for you. Otherwise, however, you should rather stick to the "classic" learning apps around Babbel and Co. Yabla costs between 7.50 euros and 12 euros per month for a subscription.

What is important about a travel language course?

A language course that is intended to prepare you for a trip or holiday must be one thing above all: effective. The aim here is not to internalise the language with all its structures and facets, grammar and syntax rules, but to master a conversational vocabulary and the most important everyday phrases as quickly as possible. The aim is to be able to greet and introduce oneself, to get along in hotels and restaurants, to ask passers-by for directions (and to understand the answer) and to be able to hold a reasonably confident conversation with the "locals".

So a language course for travelling or for holidays should:

Vocabulary - How many words do I need?

Building a vocabulary with which you can have a successful conversation is easier than you might think. A study by Mark Davies (Brigham Young University in Utah) found that in many languages such as Spanish, English or German, the 1,000 most common vocabulary words are already enough to comprehend between 80 and 90 percent of spoken conversation. That is a vanishingly small vocabulary by native-speaker standards, but it is very useful. A language course that wants to prepare you optimally for everyday conversations in the destination country should therefore provide you with at least this basic vocabulary.

Let's assume you learn 10 new vocabulary words per day; then you have already mastered the most important basic vocabulary within around 3 months, and can thus start learning at relatively short notice before your trip. Many of the language learning apps compared by trusted have exactly this goal. Mondly, for example, teaches the 5,000 most common vocabulary words (plus/minus, depending on the target language) in its standard lessons. And Babbel also focuses strongly on a safe standard vocabulary in its beginner lessons.

Speaking situations - Which conversations do I prepare for?

A travel language course should also be situation-oriented. It is of no use to you to just memorize dull vocabulary and sentences if you cannot apply them. The context is crucial here. Important vocabulary and phrases for typical holiday situations should be at the forefront of your language course - along with, of course, basic conversational situations such as talking about the time of day, how to get to or from a place of interest, etc.

Many modern language courses offer lessons and learning games for exactly these situations. With Babbel, for example, the first two lessons of the beginner's course "English" do not consist of boring basic exercises, but are oriented towards real-life speaking situations; here you learn to introduce yourself, to make appointments with others, to order in a restaurant or café, or to chat about your hobbies, your origins and your family. Similarly with Mondly, Lingualia or Busuu; here you also learn mostly situational sentences and vocabulary.

Pronunciation / listening comprehension - How does the language actually sound?

Last but not least, the language course you choose should not only contain grey theory, but also train your pronunciation and listening comprehension. Having crammed vocabulary only on paper is a wasted effort for everyday conversation. You also need to know how the vocabulary sounds and how to pronounce it correctly. This is especially important for languages whose pronunciation is very different from the written word - such as French - or for languages whose pronunciation cannot be derived from the written word because they have a different alphabet.