Moving Overseas and Learning the Local Language: Benefits, Tips, and Ideas

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Moving to a foreign country is an exciting but also intimidating experience. You don’t know the language nor the culture, the road signs and the metric system could also be different from where you live. Everything is a lot of to process…I know. Although overwhelming, learning the language of the country you move to and immersing yourself in the local culture gives you many advantages. Here are three great reasons to learn a new language:

  1. Pick up new habits, learn about the other culture and incorporate some of the local routines into your daily actions. This will give you a new perspective on life, challenge yourself and feel more at ease in the new country.
  2. Understanding and being understood is one of the best ways to adapt to change. Simple situations, such as ordering coffee, going grocery shopping, or even talking to your landlord in his native lingo, which might seem insignificant to you, will help you in the long-run to overcome frustration.
  3. Mastering the local language creates bonds with locals. Suddenly they begin to invite you to their family dinners, birthday parties or to their cousin’s wedding. Strengthening your relations with the locals is a great way to experience their culture first-hand.

Having said this, don’t let a foreign language overwhelm you. You don’t need to be fluent or learn all the grammar. All you need to do is not to be afraid of making mistakes, embrace the way things are in the new country and just give it a try. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • A language course where your learning is guided by a professional teacher, you learn about the local culture and cuisine, and meet other students who are more likely to be in a similar situation like yours. The Languages Corner offers several online group courses in different formats: 1:1, private group classes, where you learn with a friend or a family member, and public group courses, where you will meet like-minded people and have fun learning together. You won’t believe how quickly you pick things up simply by doing them in context!
  • Phrasebooks. These are super handy because they provide premade sentences that you can use right away.
  • Translator Apps that will help you understand menus, people and written material. It is also a great way to learn and build vocab.
  • Practice what you learn at home, either while talking in front of the mirror, repeating sentences and vocab loudly, or even telling your hubby how your day went in a foreign language. He doesn’t understand? No problem! He doesn’t have to. You will need to let it out and speak the language in order to begin to master the sounds and to be able to string words together.
  • Watch TV, listen to the radio and read something in a foreign language. No matter how difficult or frustrating it is in the beginning, you will get used to the sounds and start to gradually understand the context first, some words here and there and, eventually, sentences. There are plenty of resources that you can use, such as news spoken slowly, podcasts, mini lesson on YouTube, etc.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid of the new language, culture or even your new skills, however awkward they might be. No matter how little you say or how wrong you say it in the target language, trying will make a huge difference in your daily life and the locals will definitely appreciate your effort and willingness to interact with them.

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