Whether you're leaving in a week, a month or a year, here's how to acquire some foreign language skills quickly.

If you have one week: "Memorize some phrases and basic vocabulary words," says Alexander Arguelles, director of the Language Learning Institute at the American University in the Emirates in Dubai. Get a general phrase book and study the language for 30 minutes every day so you know the "courtesy phrases" -- and how to find a restroom.

One month: Download an app and learn in bite-size chunks. "Apps like Mindsnacks or Duolingo make short blasts of language fun," says Karen Gould MacGilvray, director of education at Language Stars.

Six months: Take a course. "This is enough time to make real progress," Arguelles says. "If you were to train really intensively for hours a day, you could get pretty good in a friendly language." Try the series by Assimil, a French publisher, available via Amazon.

A year: All of the above, says Bill Fowler, from Cal State Fullerton's American Language Program, and also watch TV -- in that language -- to improve your proficiency and pronunciation. He suggests kids' shows, soap operas, whose "simple repetitive plots"make them easy to understand, or programs like BBC's Deutsch Plus, available on YouTube, for beginners and intermediate level learners.

-- Danielle Braff, Chicago Tribune