The Travel Linguist Story

For many years, I have traveled around the world in search of fun and adventure. I have found that knowing just a few survival words and phrases in the local language can turn a stranger into a friend. If you can count to ten, you can barter in a market. If you know a few words in a restaurant, you'll get a nicer table. If you can ask for directions, you can explore places that the tourists never discover.

I started the Travel Linguist thanks to a beer hall in Berlin.

Several years ago I was traveling in Germany. The only German words I knew were Fräulein and das Bier. After many "das Bier" I had to go to the bathroom. And not in a casual way but in the "I have to go NOW" way. I asked the waiter for the "toilet" (which is one of those words that seems to work in all languages) and he pointed me down the hall to two doors marked Damen and Herren.

Unfortunately, I did not know who is Damen or who is Herren. All I could do was hop on one leg while I waited for someone to come or go. When a man finally entered Herren, I vowed never to travel anywhere without learning some survival words.

My career and travels have taken me to over 50 countries around the world. No matter where I go, I always learn around 100 necessary survival words. “Thank You” in Arabic; “Excuse Me” in Tagalog; and “My name is Joe” in Portuguese. Just knowing a few words in Thai or Bahasa or Wolof always gets me a little extra respect and kindness from the locals.

When I settled in New York City a while ago, I was happy to discover that I was surrounded by more languages here than you can find anywhere else in the world. And that gave me the idea to turn my love of languages into these products.

Our Travel Linguist 101 series focuses on teaching you just those 101 survival words that you need to easily get around in a new culture. Our Portable Language series takes it a step further and teaches you 600 essential words and phrases with DVDs, CDs, software for PC and Mac, and even learning tools for your iPhone, iPad, or Android.

And, of course, if you want to truly master a language we have the tools to get you to fluency. Just learn one word at a time and you'll be there.

--Joe Mefford 
--The Travel Linguist