Can you learn a new language when you’re on vacation?

Maybe you’re getting ready for your much-earned ‘hols’…

Perhaps it’s sun, sand, beach, pool that float your boat.

Some prefer rolling hills, fabulous landscapes, sparkling streams and sleeping under the stars?

Or could it be that you rather city lights, wonderful architecture, museums, art galleries, a theatrical show perhaps?

It’s all so wonderfully exciting, the different things you’re going to be able to do and to see.

We all have a routine of some sort, in our day-to-day life; that’s where the word  “VACATION ” comes in. 

The Online Etymology Dictionary enlightened me about the exact meaning of the word ‘vacation’.  

Origin in the late fourteenth century. How amazing is that for a start?

This dictionary defines the word ‘vacation’ as : “the act of vacating , freedom from obligations, being free from duty, immunity earned by service”.


It’s a lovely word!

So you will need lots of equipment for a fabulous holiday. Too many lovely things you would love to take with you, because you never have time for them at home.

Could one of those things be your language learning desire?

There is one thing that many language students identify as their biggest stumbling block in learning a new language, and that is fitting their learning into their established routine.

And there is one thing usually inherent in most people’s concept of VACATION and that is they get to step away, even for just a short time, from their


So many language learners blame their already established routine on the fact they can’t find time to incorporate learning their new language into the routine.

So at a moment in your life when you consciously BREAK THAT ROUTINE  and take a vacation, seize the opportunity and do what you really want to do: learn a new language!

This could be the perfect time to get your head round that new language you have been promising yourself for years you wanted to start learning.

It makes  sense to do something for yourself that you just have never had a chance to fit into your daily/weekly routine.

What would you take on holiday?

I know lots of friends who stock up on crossword magazines to take on vacation.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very admirable pastime; highly intellectual, in fact. It certainly keeps the old brain cells working and increases the knowledge of your own language. Wonderful.

Typical crossword pattern (UK) Photo Credit
Then are those who take a ‘best-seller’ to while away the tranquil moments while holiday: Below see my treasured copy of

“Don Quijote de La Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes

which I took with me once on holiday!

quijote page
My copy of “Don Quijote”

But the question is what exactly do you want to do for yourself on your holiday?


As I already said above: ” This could be the perfect time to get your head round that new language you have been promising yourself for years you wanted to start learning. ”

My copy of Don Quijote de la Mancha was so heavy that I had to borrow a paperback edition of the book in order to carry it in my rucksack on my holiday (that’s going back a while!) .

Start packing your bags now and start downloading the language ‘applications’ that are available at the moment.

Use this moment on vacation to do something you really have always wanted to do, even if it’s just for a few days.


Get your resources ready:

  • Identify what you want to take back, linguistically, from this holiday.
  • Inform and involucrate a member of the family /friend about your linguistic plans. Plan a meeting with member of the family /friend your friend
  • Set specific goals (e.g., I will learn the present tense of IR, i will be able to get an understanding of SER/ESTAR  over the next week etc.
  • Surround yourself with as many resources as possible in and about your target language. (Reading materials, language ‘apps’ and the myriad of language learning resources on-line, keep a holiday journal in your target language)
  • Make plans to return home/routine and incorporate your new language into your usual routine

Please LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW if you found this useful or if you have ever used vacation time to improve your language skills.

Please let me know how I can help you with any of this.


  1. Hi zipfslaw1
    Just noticed your comment now. Sorry.
    May I ask : a lesson or two of what, while you were where?
    Did you achieve your ‘language on vacation’ goals?
    Regards. Marie.


  2. I moved to the Middle East six years ago and I still dont speak arabic… I guess I should start planning 😉 Obviously i can count a little bit and swear like a cave man but doesn’t count i think….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Miss A,
      I was in Abu Dhabi for two years and found it impossible to get a local native to help me with Arabic. (I’m not really sure but I think it was a ‘culture thing’, because I was Westerner.)
      I ended up with Skype lessons from a gentleman in Cairo while I was living in an Arabic speaking country. I thought it was bizarre.
      Thanks for commenting.
      Regards. Marie.


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