Today we’re going to offer a few strategies for getting the most out of studying or working abroad. These strategies will help you to maximize your language learning experience while living in a country whose primary language is not English.
Embrace Pop Culture in Your New Language
Listen to music that is sung in the language that you are learning. Find a genre or band that you like and listen it instead of the library of English language music on your iPod. Start watching television shows that are spoken in your new language. Once you’ve found a couple that you like, make a point to watch them regularly.
Read for Pleasure in Your New Language
Don’t stop reading in your new language after you’ve closed your textbooks or replied to your office correspondence. Grab a book that you’ve never read before that is available in both English and the language you are studying. Read the version in your new language first then check out the English version to see how much of it you really understood. This can also be a great way to examine the similarities and differences between English and your new language. Some things just don’t translate between languages, so you should analyze how the translator handled concepts in one language that don’t have a direct equivalent in the other.
Speak and Write in Your New Language as Much as You Can
While it might be tempting to revert to English outside of class or work, doing so will only slow down your language learning progress. Speak and write in your knew language whenever possible, even (especially) when you don’t need to. Forcing yourself to have every conversation in your knew language, even when the person you are addressing also speaks English, will give you invaluable real world practice that you just can’t replicate in a classroom setting.
Set Your Cell Phone to Your New Language
Considering how much time we spend on our phones, setting your phone’s default language to the one that you are learning is a surprisingly simple way to boost your language skills. Every single interaction with your phone will compel you to think in your new language, even when you are not actively texting, emailing, or messaging in it.