5 Ways to Learn a Language in a Foreign Country
Mastering a new language is one of those things that many of us really want to achieve at some point of their life, regardless of where they are in their life.
Indeed, this topic is becoming more popular, and is an amazing addition to any CV or just a great way to be more knowledgeable of what is out there in the world.
As my practice shows, there isn’t any one great or one best way of learning a new language, but without a doubt, it is more ideal to study a new language abroad and it’s a little easier as well.
Here we’ll discuss several methods of how to learn a language in a foreign country and the best part about it is that you are kind of forced to practice what you’ve learned in your daily life.
Whether you adore the passion of Italian, masochistic by the challenge of Mandarin (new language and alphabet) or you just want to get in touch with your Polish roots, in this short article you’ll find five ways to learn a language in a foreign country.
Now, this does not mean to get into a language school abroad. What I mean here is that you could focus on learning a new language while studying abroad, even if you are not solely taking language courses.
First, you’ll have to apply to programs in countries that you are interested to visit and learn their language.
Once you’re there, make every effort to interact with full-time students rather than just those studying abroad like you.
You should also try to learn on your own or even enroll in one or more language courses as part of your studies there. Practice what you learn in your day-to-day life.
An easy way to make it happen is to make new friends while you are there.
Try your best to interact with actual native speakers of the language, rather than foreign students like yourself; especially if they speak your language.
Study abroad programs are fairly easy to enroll in these days and include housing, making the move abroad easy.
They usually cost a bit less or the same as a semester at your university (depending where you study. But a positive thing is that many countries offer a lower cost of living then in the United States.
Whenever learning a new language is not the main priority on your “to-do list”, you will probably feel like it takes a lot of motivation on your part.
You might feel a bit isolated from people who are studying abroad like you, while you are making an effort to befriend and socialize with the local students instead.
So when you study abroad and your goal is to gain a firm grasp of a new language, you will have to prioritize and choose your courses accordingly.
There’s nothing better than real emersion in a completely new language environment.
These days we have millions of videos or online language courses, however they’ll never replace the method of full emersion. If you are at your best in a classroom setting, look into applying for some language courses abroad, offered through your university or even universities that offers such programs.
Visiting the international center of your university must be very helpful just to see if they have any summer language courses abroad.
You can also look online for foreign universities that offer language courses and apply directly through them.
Look into applying for language courses abroad through your university at home or even with a foreign university.
Many times there will not be any additional costs associated with going for an exchange program, other that your airplane tickets and other miscellaneous costs.
Most people will be accustomed to this form of learning and find it easy to get used to, which is one less thing to.
You’ll have peers who speak your native tongue so you won’t feel so lonely (but trust me, you’re not gonna feel lonely;). Also, this is a safe and well-organized way of traveling abroad as most universities include room and board in their tuition.
University programs mean university-sized classes (but not always), which means you might not receive as much one-on-one time with your instructor.
Your partner universities abroad are most likely offering courses taught in English, while it could be a great thing and you would probably make a lot of friends this way, there is way less pressure on you to speak the language you are trying to learn, and this might totally undermine your plan.
But in the end its up to you who you hang out with. Lastly, classroom setting is not for all. There are many ways to learn a language, so read on.
Another great way to learn a language or a good addition to any language program is to exchange lessons with a buddy.
You can usually find notices online, on social networks, or if you are “old-school” go and check out the community bulletin boards for people that want to do this.
Craigslist is one of many websites to use, so try to find the foreign equivalent of Craigslist while traveling. (can’t believe this is actually my advice (giggles=) But it works…. And I like to follow my uncle Ed’s advice – “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”
You can meet your buddy over coffee or dinner a few times a week or more and exchange lessons as well as practice conversation.
Well for starters, it’s free, which is not a word used often when it comes to learning a language.
It’s a more intuitive and casual approach to learning a foreign language. That’s a pretty good way to learn accents and everyday language interacting with someone who just speaks the language as their mother-tongue rather than reading from a cold, hard text book or listening to an instructor who teaches the proper way of speaking and sometimes even an out-dated language.
But most importantly, you might make a friend.
Now this approach might not be as inexpensive as you might think. While you are not paying as you would with a tutor, you still have to meet somewhere, like in a coffee shop, or some place where both you could have a great time effectively learning this language.
You also will be investing your precious time. And its not like you will be sitting there to only learn, you will also have to teach this person in front of you! Let that sink in your head for a bit.~~~
Yes, teaching someone is a whole new story.
First of all, you should prepare some materials. We are so lucky these days, ‘cause there are literally millions of various materials on the web. You will have to teach your language to someone who doesn’t speak a word of it.
For some people its harder to learn in this kind of structure, because there are no guidelines and all this process will be up to you to decide along with your language partner.
You’ll have to figure out your own housing, which may or may not be a con if you are just traveling anyway.
Most importantly – always be sure to meet your buddy in a public place the first few times. Never visit their apartment or home until you feel like you know them well enough.
But other than this little precaution it should be fun!
Now, this is the method that could potentially propel your foreign language skills up very fast, especially if your tutor has been doing it for a while and has experience in tutoring.
If buddy programs aren’t nearly as structured as you’d like, but you want that individual attention, then you might want to invest in one-on-one tutoring.
This might be a bit costly but, from my personal experience it was totally worth it. My tutor had her own method developed, so she was very knowledgeable about how to teach a new language. And also it was not boring, it was super fun and engaging, I really loved the experience.
You can find language tutors as you would buddies, on bulletin boards and universities or online.
You’ll receive the most attention with this method and it will be from someone who is experienced in teaching a language.
They’ll really be able to cater to your strength and weaknesses, focus on general language comprehension accents and things that will be of use in the real life.
In this case these one-on-one tutoring sessions will give you a lot of freedom to choose where to get together, how, when and other logistics questions.
It can be very expensive, depending on what language you are actually learning, and where you are learning it.
Additionally, depending on tutor, this is quite an expensive way to learn, however the focus and the value of an individual approach you receive may help you learn quicker, so it could be cheaper in the long run.
Volunteer or Work Abroad
Working or volunteering abroad, (or some kind of internships abroad) will require you have some knowledge of the language forcing you to learn very fast if you are completely submerged in the atmosphere where everyone is speaking the language you are trying to learn.
In this case, even if you are not going be able to speak this language by the end of your contract, you can be sure that at least you will have a great time exploring the new culture, making new friends, earning some money and just having an amazing time abroad.
Which in the end might raise your interest in perfecting this foreign language even more. So it might actually be another great way to learn a language after all…
This method sort of tricks people into learning. You pick up different phrases and vocabulary as you go rather than having to learn it in a classroom, therefore if you are just sick and tire of sitting in a classroom, give this method a try.
Earning money during this process is also a huge plus, because its gonna help you foot the bill and bring home the bacon 😉
And that, my friends could never be a disadvantage!
No one is going to care about your learning process, so every effort is up to you and there’ll be no one to oversee your improvements unless you go through an actual work/study or volunteer/study program. Basically it’s up to you to teach yourself.
Plus, receiving a visa to work in certain countries is often a process that will take some time and if the country you are applying to work in has a different mother tongue than your own, they might require you speak their language to receive a work permit. But it all depends on a case by case basis, depends on a country you want to work in basically.
Another important advice is to always be alert about the “bad hombres” out there, they do exist, so do not be naïve, and double check where you want to go, what company is it, do they have a history or are they brand new and kinda shady… So be smart about it 🙂 I know you’ll do fine!
So what is this Language Learning craze all about? Some people say, they already speak the most important language on Planet Earth – English, and that’s enough…
Well, if you don’t want want to stop your personal development there, and you are actually interested about exploring other cultures, perspectives on life, how other people live their lives, how they interact with each other.
Just understanding that we are sometimes so different as if we were on different dimensions, like some nations have such a different culture and traditions, and by understanding them through their language you will be able to enlighten yourself, and broaden your understanding of the world.
When you only speak English, while it has its own beauty, every new language is going to open a whole new world in your head. Its like a palette with different paint colors, each new color is a new language.
While you could try understanding what the picture is all about looking at it through the prism of only one color. You will still miss out many details, and specifics of that picture or a painting. And when your goal is to understand more about the world we live in, it is a great approach to learn a new language just to see how colorful the world is; and that there is a lot more to it than just a one-sided, “proper approach to life”.
Have a great day y’all!