A Guide to Learning a Language Abroad

 In Blog
Are you planning to move to another country soon? Then you should know that learning a language abroad is something you should start thinking about as early as possible, well before you decide to book international moving services. Acquiring the skill to communicate in a foreign language takes a lot of time and effort, which is why we suggest you start right now. Here are some tips to help you do it right.

Learning a Language Abroad: Passive vs. Active Approach

As an English speaker in a non-English speaking country, you’re given two choices when it comes to how to learn a language. You can either do it passively or actively. The passive approach requires minimal effort on your side and pretty much boils down to immersing yourself in the community and culture and letting your brain acquire the language naturally. There are, however, several problems with this approach:
  • It takes time. Not taking action and letting something happen at its own pace always takes more time than being proactive.
  • It doesn’t always work. For some people, languages don’t come so naturally, so there is a chance this method won’t work. On top of that, the older we get, the harder it is to acquire languages passively.
  • It’s not always enough. If you are moving for a job, the chances are you will need to use the new language pretty early on. Likewise, if you’re moving for school, you’ll need to know the language in order to understand lectures.

Choose the right approach to learning

On the other hand, the active approach requires you to be more proactive when you learn. You will have to put in more time and effort, but it will surely pay off in the end, not only in your work and school environment but also in your everyday interactions with the locals and your new friends.

Get a Head Start Before Moving

As soon as you decide to move abroad, maybe even relocate across the world, you should begin to learn how to live in another country. This, of course, entails learning the language of the nation. So put in some effort to start as early as possible. The sooner you master the basics, the easier it will be to learn the more complicated parts of grammar and vocabulary.

Watch TV Programs, Read Newspaper Articles, Listen to Music

Immersing yourself in the country’s popular culture and current affairs will surely help the process. Even if you feel like you barely understand anything at first, don’t get discouraged. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself able to follow the news or read a magazine without any trouble.

Watch foreign TV channels for practice

Don’t Fall into the English-Speaking Trap

English is one of the most widely learned second languages in the world. In other words, no matter where you go, there will be a good portion of people who speak English at least to the extent that they can form basic sentences. For that reason, it is all too easy for us, as native speakers, to rely on our mother tongue no matter where we go. However, if you’re moving abroad, you will have to teach yourself to actively avoid using English.

More Useful Tips

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to learn foreign languages when moving across the border, we’d like to share some additional tips that you will surely find useful.

Sign Up for a Language Course

Having someone who is not only fluent but also trained to teach people, help you learn the ropes can go a long way in this situation. Look up reviews or ask other foreigners for recommendations and sign up for a course. As a plus, you will surely meet new people and maybe even make some friends.

Turn to the International Community Abroad

No matter where you are moving to, you are surely not the first American to do so. Pretty much every country in the world has an expat community you can turn to for some tips, recommendations, or introduction to the culture.

Form a Study Group

If you already know some people who are in a similar situation to yours, we recommend that you form a study group and go through the process together. That is, of course, if you are the type who enjoys studying in a group.

Create a study group with other expats

Learn Through an App

There are so many handy apps out there, such as Duolingo, designed to help people study. All you have to do is download them, pick a course, and stay consistent. However, keep in mind that using such an app should be seen as practice, not as your main studying activity.

Practise, Practise, Practise

Embrace every chance you get to use a new phrase you learned or just communicate with the locals in general. Do your best to make it clear that you don’t want to talk to them in English. Sure, it will take longer and the conversation will be a little dull, but even a little practice goes a long way.

Remember: Mistakes Are Good

Studying foreign languages is not a straight-line process. Every mistake that you make is a sign that you have yet to internalize what you’ve learned. In other words, it means that learning is actually taking place.

Memorize Phrases, Not Just Words

Since the main reason why you are doing this is to communicate with others, you’ll probably find it useful to start by memorizing whole phrases instead of separate words. We suggest that you start by memorizing different forms of greetings (“hello”, “good morning”, “good afternoon”), most common questions (“what’s your name”, “how are you”, “how can I help you”) and the answers to those questions.

Focus on phrases, not just words

Take Your Time

Remember – acquiring a foreign tongue is a life-long process. Don’t worry if it seems like it’s going slow. You’ll get to the point where you can communicate comfortably in no time!

Why Spanish is Useful Even Outside of Spain

If you’re still not sure where you would like to move, we suggest a Spanish-speaking country. Learning Spanish is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself, as it is spoken all over the world, from Europe to South America, and even in large parts of the USA. Whether you’re moving to Spain, relocating to Venezuela, or any other country where Spanish is dominant, it will surely come in handy.