When moving abroad, especially if you are planning to settle down, it might be useful to learn the local language. While some languages are easier to master than others, and you can use English to communicate in many countries, actually speaking the new native language will certainly enhance your experience.
Learning Japanese or Chinese, two of the most difficult languages in the world might take longer, but learning Spanish or French should be easier. Mastering the language of your destination will enable you to communicate better, and mix with the locals.
To help you better integrate by mastering at least the basics of the language spoken in your new country, we've put together some useful tips.
1. Find out how you learn best
Do you rely on your intuition or your logic? Do you need to see something written down to learn it or do you prefer hearing it? Find out how you learn a language the most effectively, whether you want to understand the basics of grammar first, or if you learn better by repetition or intuition. Try to enjoy the learning process, and use a variety of methods to keep it interesting.
If you already speak a foreign language, finding out how you learn best shouldn't be too hard, as you can rely on your prior knowledge. If you don't speak any other languages, the challenge might be greater, but you'll feel great satisfaction the first time you hold an actual conversation in your new language.
2. Mix with the locals
Try to find new friends from the local population, join local clubs, and mix with the locals. Staying in the comfort zone of your expatriate community might mean that you will never learn the new language, and will not experience the local culture in its entirety. Naturally, you can keep in touch with your fellow expatriates, but make new local friends as well. This will also give you the chance to practice your language skills in a safe environment.
3. Do not learn on your own
Join a local language learning group, or persuade a friend or a family member to learn the language with you. Learning with someone else can not only make the learning process more enjoyable, but it will also give you the chance to speak more. In a language group, you have the opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Which is, of course, very helpful when you move to a new country.
4. Speak and don't be afraid of making mistakes
You will only be able to learn the language if you actually practice speaking it. If you have some native friends, practice speaking to them as often as possible, and ask them to speak to you in their language, even if you don't understand everything perfectly. If you don't have anybody around to speak to, you can even practice speaking to yourself. This will help you better memorise phrases and sentences.
Speaking from the beginning of the learning process is important, and it is essential that you are not afraid of making mistakes. The more you speak the less mistakes you'll have, but without trying to speak, you'll never master a foreign language.
5. Read, watch TV and listen to the radio
While grammar books are useful for understanding the basics of a language, encountering it in its original context, in newspapers and the TV is essential. You will thus get used to hearing the language at normal speed, and will have the chance to expand your vocabulary and enhance your understanding without a conscious effort. You will be picking up new words by making use of the subtitles and pictures while watching a film or the news. When you first start reading, begin with news stories or books that you've already read in English, as this will make it easier for you to pick up on the grammar and tone.
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