An insider’s guide to learning a language abroad
Travel is one of the most broadening experiences you can have. Exploring new cities and towns, learning about the history and culture of a place and sharing stories with the locals are just some of the things which make travel fantastic.
But have you thought of planning a trip which gives new skills, too? Learning a new language while away can give you a closer look into a country’s culture and customs, or balance having fun with getting some great new skills to further your education or career.
Why learn a language?
Some of the benefits of learning abroad include:
- Mixing with other students from around the world, and perhaps with locals in the host country’s language
- Getting the chance to become entirely immersed in the language you are learning, without the distractions you may have if you are learning on a part time course at home
- Building your confidence with using the language; learning isn’t just about dry grammar practice and learning abroad can bring a language to life
Choosing where and what to study
Prioritise how useful a language will be to you personally, taking into consideration your work, your aspirations and your future travel plans. Think about the relevance of a language globally; Spanish, Mandarin and English are some of the most commonly spoken languages around the world. But, if the industry you work in is taking off in Brazil, Portuguese may be a better choice.
Be afraid to take a course closer to home, if time and budget are issues. Longing to move to Provence but haven’t got the funds yet? For French language courses London is a great place to choose because of the number of French nationals living in the city to practise speaking with.
Arranging your course
Research the relevant language standards institutes of the host country to ensure the quality of teaching is the very best. Using a UK language school which is accredited by an organisation such as IALC (International Association of Language Centres) to arrange your trip will also give you higher security and quality control.
Get nervous about taking the plunge and going far away from home to learn. If you’ve always wanted to take a Japanese language course but feel nervous about Japan’s distance from home, think how much you stand to gain by interacting with local people. It’s a challenge worth taking on.
Getting the most out of your trip
Relax and try to use as many opportunities to chat to different people as possible. This is your one chance to gain as much in-depth knowledge of the language as you can. If you feel shy, try to engage others by talking about subjects you feel passionate about so you’re never lost for words.
Forget to have fun! Learning needn’t be too serious. Enjoy your trip and remember you only stand to gain from this exciting experience.