Moving abroad can be a scary experience, especially when you’re alone, surrounded by unknown people, and unfamiliar with the language. While each person deals with this differently, there are some tips that can help you break down the language barrier and become more comfortable.
1. Take Up a Language Course
If you want to get a strong grasp of a language immediately, there’s no better way than getting classes from a native speaker. With numerous online platforms by the likes of Duolingo and Busuu, you can start learning without leaving your home.
However, many professionals recommend live classes since it opens up the possibility to meet new people, form relationships, as well as receive personal attention from the teacher. Whether online or in-person, language courses are one of the most effective methods.
2. Get a Phrasebook
At the beginning of your abroad studies, you’ll need to learn the essential phrases to help you get by until you become more familiar. While you could try to keep them all in your head, it’s a lot better to have them on paper, which means buying a phrasebook. These tiny publishings come in pocket-size editions that makes carrying them around a breeze, and they contain everything that you could possibly need to hold a basic conversation. Also, if you’re struggling with pronouncing a certain word, you can simply show the book to your collocutor.
3. Make Friends with Native Speakers
When you decide to take a language course, you’re guaranteed to meet some native speakers that you could befriend. However, it can be hard to get an idea of who they are due to the language barrier, which is why you should try to acquire information in another way. To do this simply, all you need is their phone number.
Once you’ve acquired their number, you can use a people search website such as Spokeo. With the reverse phone lookup feature, you can run an extensive inquiry that could reveal a lot of personal information about an individual, including details such as their criminal records and social media profiles.
4. Change Your Devices’ Languages
If you use your phone/tablet/computer for at least a couple of hours each day, you likely memorized what each feature means and where it’s located, even if you’re not aware of it. This makes changing the language on it very effective – your mind will automatically, over time, connect the new words with their native equivalents that you’re already familiar although it might be a bit confusing at first. Still, keep in mind that this approach is quite limited since there’s only a finite number of words.
5. Reduce Native Language Use
Once you’re able to fluently think and speak in a foreign language, you’ll know that you fully mastered it. Until then, it’s crucial to minimize the extent to which you speak in your native tongue while utilizing your target language as much as possible. In the beginning, you’ll find yourself constantly looking up words that you’re unfamiliar with – maybe even some that you’ve already looked up. Even though this can be annoying, it will strengthen your knowledge in the long run.
6. Take Up a Hobby
Mutual interests are the key to meeting new people. Whether it’s a sport or any other type of hobby, it’s guaranteed to help you find someone to communicate with. Alongside being healthy for you, it’s a good way to learn something new while having fun. Search, ask around and visit different clubs until you find one to your liking.
7. Read Books
You’ll struggle with books in a foreign language – and you’ll struggle a lot. You might go through a couple of pages without understanding a single word of what you’ve just read. In these cases, take advantage of your digital dictionary. Search for the meaning of the words, try to connect them with each other, and take your time. Don’t worry if you need an hour to go through and analyze a single page – if you learned something new, it’s well worth your time.
8. Watch Movies
If you’re simply feeling stressed out reading books, movies are a very good, lightweight alternative. Since you have a visual representation right in front of you, it’s much easier to discern what the actors are saying in the context of the whole scenario. In addition, movies are almost guaranteed to keep your attention since they require much less effort than books. Still, make sure to turn on the subtitles so that you can see how certain foreign words are supposed to be spelt out.
9. Listen To Music
Don’t listen to foreign music for the sole purpose of learning the language. Find songs that are catchy and that you truly like. You’ll be interested in the lyrics, look them up, and then use a dictionary to find out the meaning. This can also turn out to be a very fun activity since you’ll be finding out the actual meaning of the songs and the lyrics behind them.
10. Video Chat with Native Speakers
Websites such as Italki connect language learners and teachers through one-on-one video chat sessions. The functionality is similar to that of a social media platform, where you search through thousands of teachers of different languages, look at their profiles and connect to those that seem the most fitting for you. With over a hundred different languages available, you’ll more than likely find yours on the list.
Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies and business development. He also prefers travelling, exploring the world and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.