It is important to learn common phrases of the languages spoken in the countries on your travel itinerary, and it is not a hard task! There are many free resources available online to help you develop foreign language skills, whether you are a total beginner or already have some proficiency. Resources range from simple dictionaries and translators to complete lessons with sound and/or video. My list is heavy on French, since that’s the language I’ve been focusing on, but this will give you a good sense of all that is available online… and for free!
Duolingo: One of the most popular online language learning resources, Duolingo offers a wide variety of language lessons. An account is required, but it is free to set up!
Google Translate: This is a good way to quickly translate a few words or an entire paragraph. Although the translations are not always completely accurate, you can usually get a good understanding on what it is you are translating.
Word Reference: Online translation dictionaries (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian). This is the resource I use when I need a quick translation of just one word.
Phrasebase: A conversational foreign language learning social network, including lessons (40 languages).
Word2Word: All kinds of language resources, including links to free lessons in many languages.
BBC Languages: Online courses in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and many more, using slide shows and sounds. Great resource for practical tourist needs.
French in Action: A free video-on-demand educational program with 52 different lessons. An excellent resource!
Destinos – An Introduction to Spanish: Free online video-on-demand program with 52 different lessons.
French Word-a-Day: A periodic newsletter offering a daily word and other vocabulary incorporated into a story (in English) about French life. Written by an American woman living in Provence. I really enjoy these pieces.
ThoughtCo : A Website offering language lessons in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Mandarin.