Learn Spanish With Lonely Planet’s Fluent Road

Traveling to Spain or Latin America this summer and want to say more than “Donde esta el bano?” (though, that’s an important one to know)? Lonely Planet has just launched a new online foreign language program, Fluent Road, partnering with Spanish language program Fluenz. The focus is on Spanish for now, but you can choose from dialects from Argentina, “neutral” Latin America, Mexico, or Spain.

Fluent Road is designed for travelers to get the basics before a trip: Spanish for transportation, finding accommodation, ordering food, etc. It’s also a good stepping-stone to a more intensive learning program, and travelers could easily work up to a Fluenz course after completing Fluent Road. What differentiates this from other language learning like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur is a dissection of the language, showing you how Spanish works and providing explanations, not just rote immersion. Fluenz founder and avid traveler Sonia Gil guides you through obstacles, pronunciation, and practice speaking, writing and reading as a native speaker and “language geek.”

As with all online learning, you can go at your own pace; there are 30 video lessons that can be completed in one to six months. Other useful features include the ability to record yourself to compare pronunciation a native Speaker, and customizable digital flash cards to help practice. You can also contact the teacher and program designer via Twitter.

Take a free 12-hour trial now, subscriptions start from $9 for a month to $30 for six months of access, at www.fluentroad.com.

Learn Map Design In Online Class

Like many travelers, I am a map nerd. I love them all, whether they are scribbled on a bar napkin, printed in an antique atlas, or GPS-enabled (the quirky paper ones are really the best, though). Often, a map is the best way to communicate experiences, share recommendations and tips, and document your travels. How about learning to design maps, meet some like-minded folk, and find out how to “communicate places beautifully”?

Paris-based blogger and designer Anne Ditmeyer is teaching a virtual class beginning this month on map design on Skillshare. The three-week course will cover both hand-drawn maps and mapmaking in the digital age, culminating in some live “office hours” where you can bounce ideas off each other and present final projects. There are no grades, but she’ll feature her top ten favorites on her blog, so you might get some good exposure if you are creative in your map project. You don’t need any fancy computer or design skills, and it’s a bargain at $20 (about the cost of a guidebook these days), so what are you waiting for?! The class already has students in over a dozen countries around the world; check out a map of them (I’m on there for Istanbul) here.

Sign up for the class here. It runs February 18 – March 11, but you can access the lectures and content at any time after they are posted and learn at your own pace. Read more about what you can expect from the course and Anne here.

[Photo credit: Anne Ditmeyer, Prêt à Voyager]

Learn Wolof Online: Can you say thank-you?

When Aaron asked in his post for “Words English needs but doesn’t have,” I thought of a Wolof word to add to the list, but I don’t know how to spell it. enday san? n’day san?

The word is used for expressing sympathy, but much more than an “I’m sorry.” It’s like a combination between “I’m sorry,” “I feel for you,” and “That’s too bad.”

It’s a good for tossing around if someone stubs his or her toe or loses his or her life’s fortune.

I don’t know how to spell it because when I was learning Wolof as a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, Wolof was mostly an oral language and not widely written. Therefore, the two Wolof language trainers had their own versions of spelling and kept harping at those of us learning Wolof to listen instead of whining, “We’re Americans. We’re visual learners. Write it on the board.”

I still know what the word listen is in Wolof, but I don’t know how to spell that either.

Most of the Wolof I know, I never saw in a written format. I added vocabulary and phrasing over my two years of service by asking questions, writing words the way I thought they sounded and paying attention to context clues.

As a health education volunteer, I mostly learned health related conversations. I can whip out the “road to good health” talk on cue, but as for writing it down correctly, forget about it.

When Aaron asked for the word list, I did a Google search to see if I’d find some answers. Although I didn’t find n’day san, or whatever it is, I did find this online course for learning Wolof.

Wolof, spoken in The Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania, is grammatically easy and flexible. There’s one section of the Web site with audio samples. If you can pick up a few words, you’ll so delight vendors that you’ll be able to bargain like a champ.

What is one of the most important words to learn? Jërejëf “Thank-you.” That is the correct spelling. I learned it from the Web site. Click on the word to hear how it sounds.

For those of you who find books handy, the one in the picture is one I came across in my search. Here’s the link with the description.