Summer Travel on Hold? Try a Virtual ZoomCation While You Dream of Adventures to Come
Though pandemic restrictions are beginning to lift in some places, life isn’t exactly as it was before. Most countries still have travel restrictions, meaning summer vacations (and possibly your opportunity for on the ground language practice) are canceled!
The lockdown has forced us to flex our creative muscles. Access to the Internet lets us visit exotic destinations virtually. Whether you like to bake, host cocktail or painting parties, or just hang out in a “new” location for the day, we’ve got some great suggestions to join with friends and colleagues for virtual togetherness.
While we do our daily Pimsleur lessons and dream of jetting away to foreign lands, we can adapt the world on our screens to give us a little reminder of adventures to come. Let us show you how to use Zoom to inspire your language learning and help you and your friends envision the trips you’ll take when things open up again.
What is Zoom?
As you probably are aware by now, Zoom is a video teleconferencing platform that has taken the world by storm since the pandemic started. People are using it to work, but also to virtually ‘visit’ family members, friends, and colleagues while still staying safe in their homes.
One of the most fun features of Zoom is the ability to change the background of your screen to give the illusion that you’re somewhere else. Politicians, winemakers, and even morris dancers are just some of the groups making use of the ‘Virtual Background’ feature to give their meetings a little more oomph.
At Pimsleur, we love to see the world, even if it’s only virtually. If we can’t travel right now, then we want to help the world come to us, and to you.
How to Spice up Your Virtual Life with Zoom Backgrounds
1. Take a Friend to Your Favorite Vacation Spot
Relive some of your best memories using your own travel photos from past trips. Why not take your friend on a ‘visit’ to your favorite city or seashore? Show them the restaurants or street food you love, highlight local points of interest and adventure hotspots via your virtual background.
2. Host a Travel (Book) Club
What about somewhere you haven’t traveled to yet, but which has always been at the top of your bucket list? Take a virtual trip there with Zoom.
Get together with a few friends to choose a place to ‘visit’ together. Set your backgrounds, and spend time virtually exploring. Consider peppering your conversation with a few phrases from your new language.
Come to each meeting with some information about the city to share and enjoy the scenery together. Many museums, zoos, and tourist attractions are offering free virtual tours during the Covid-19 crisis, so you can take advantage of this opportunity to ‘take in’ the local sights.
Why not dress for the occasion: put on some sunglasses, a sunhat, and pour yourself a cocktail before you set off exploring!
To aid discussion, here are a few questions to get you thinking about how to enjoy the city:
· What are your favorite things about this place?
· Where would you like to go to eat? Is there a food you would like to try?
· What is there to do in the evening?
· What are the biggest tourist attractions?
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could expand the adventure to include all the senses and experiment preparing a dish from the country you’re ‘visiting’!
3. Go to a Sporting Event
With professional sports canceled in most of the world, it can be tough to try and fill the void left by large-scale sporting events. Whether a spectator or a player, for many people, their pre-Covid social calendar was based around sports.
So why not recreate a live sports event at home? Set the virtual background to your local stadium and have a highlights watch party with friends. You’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the action and if you’ve always wondered what it might take to be a comentarista, calling the play-by-play, now could be your chance.
4. Visit a Natural Wonder
Maybe you’ve always wanted to see the epic natural beauty of Patagonia. Or Machu Picchu, Mount Fuji, or to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Whichever natural wonder is the top of your list, there’s no reason not to take a virtual trip. In light of Covid-19, many authorities are offering virtual tours of national parks and iconic landscapes. Get a front-row seat to Mother Earth and sign up for a tour!
5. Play “Guess Where I Am?”
It doesn’t need to be all travel-bucket-list based, though. Have some fun with Zoom and play a version of the popular game “20 Questions.”
Set your background to a place you know, and ask your friends to guess where you are, getting information from you by asking you yes/no questions.
So, as an example, they might ask you: “Are you in Europe?” Or, “Do they speak Spanish where you are?”
You could play this in either English or the language you are learning. Playing “20 Questions” is a great way to practice question structure and both positive and negative responses.
For some extra speaking practice, you and your friend could describe your virtual background in your target language.
6. Bring Some Imagination to Your Language Practice Roleplay
Most of us are learning languages in order to use them in the real, non-locked-down world. So why should we let lockdown keep us from practicing these scenarios?
Use Zoom backgrounds to mimic real-life scenarios on calls with friends who are learning the same language (see #2).
Are you currently learning how to ask for a train ticket? Add an image of a train station as your virtual background, and suddenly you’re there, so you can really dive into conversation practice.
Want to practice vocabulary for going to the cinema? Add a background of a box office.
Just finished learning restaurant phrases? Same. ‘Take’ yourself to a restaurant. You can take turns ordering in your second language with your friend acting as the waiter. Your brain won’t know it’s not real, and it’s a fun way to practice.
Lockdown has made us all a little more inventive. We’ve had to learn to appreciate the smaller things in life, and we hope that these ideas can give you some joy and boost your language learning practice in the coming weeks.
Free Zoom Backgrounds to Inspire Your Language Learning
We’ve developed some custom Pimsleur Zoom backgrounds, featuring iconic scenery from locales where our languages are spoken. They’re designed to arouse your imagination, and remind you why you’re learning a new language.
Each image below is a link to a higher-resolution Zoom background. Download your favorites and share your love of languages and travel.
Enhance Your Virtual Travel with Pimsleur Language Learning
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