Best way to learn a new language? Immerse yourself in it! Travel! The next time you go on holiday visit a country where your target language is the official language. Even if your native language is spoken – and when you’re an English speaker it often is – try not to use it. We often feel that we sound stupid in the beginning (and some of us do), but throw caution to the wind (feel free to practise idioms) and give it a go! Native speakers will be grateful, and you’ll feel over the moon (more idioms, why not?!).
How to start this adventure into the unknown? we hear you say. Why not take a solo trip? Get out there on your own and conquer your fear. You will find that you are likely to bond over football, food and beer (relaxed environments always help. Who are we kidding? – Beer always helps ;)). Stumbling over obstacles as you battle with the target language are all part of the learning curve – take one of our staff who, when learning Cambodian, ended up in a confusing dilemma of eating dog rather than duck. It happens to the best of us. As Cambodian is likely not your target language, you won’t have so far to travel. You’re still not feeling the solo trip vibe? Sometimes something as small as going to a coffee shop alone will encourage you to speak the language. Check out this blog below, with cost and safety tips, for anyone interested in solo travel: https://www.smartertravel.com/single-travel-tips-going-solo/
Tourist attractions are great, but make sure you take some time to check out where the locals gather – Londoners wouldn’t be seen dead on Oxford Street. Going to a big city like Berlin? Cool! Can you get away with not speaking German? Too easily I’m afraid – get out into a smaller town; lose yourself between the railway station and the bakery (two essential things). The less touristy, the more likely you’ll be to use your language skills. For local favorites: https://www.spottedbylocals.com/
Make friends! Easier said than done, but wherever you are or wherever you travel try to engage with people from all walks of life. You’ll be surprised who you end up getting to know, as well as how supportive people are willing to be in helping you on your language journey. And if you are not in the position to travel at the moment, do it from your armchair! Get a pen-pal! A wonderfully old fashioned tradition that, thankfully, lives on. Check out: https://mylanguageexchange.com/Penpals.asp
The spirit of travel also lives on in the classroom. Your compatriots will probably be from different countries to you. Socialise! Learn about their countries and cultures (more armchair travel right there) in class, after class and, more importantly, over a beer (See above 🙂 )