Being in a new country which speaks a different language from yours puts you in a sink-or-swim situation.
You have to start learning the native language to hold conversations with people, move about the country, and generally make your stay much more pleasant.
Learning a foreign language is one of those things most people wish to do at some point in their life. And touring abroad offers a great chance to immerse yourself in other people’s culture and learn their language.
Whether you have moved to a new country permanently or are just touring, there are some ways you can learn to speak the language faster than you thought.
1. Spend Your Free Time Watching Local Television
If you plan to stay in a foreign country for a year or more, it’s a good idea to start watching local shows as a way of learning or polishing up the new language.
Opt for local TV rather than stream shows in your native language. Preferably, start with shows that have English subtitles.
When subtitles are not available, listen carefully, note down new vocabulary, and translate online to understand their meaning.
Watching TV is a great way to learn how to mimic real-life conversations. So listen more and memorize what you hear.
Tune in to local radio stations too, while you are doing chores. Unlike textbook learning, you will know how to pronounce words correctly and sound natural when doing it.
It’s okay to repeat words you hear out loud to see if you are pronouncing them right. The more time you spend watching these local shows, the more you will learn how to speak like a native person.
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2. Try Exchange Lessons with Friends Locally
Just like you are trying to learn the local people’s language, there’s someone else who wants to learn your native language. So, why not exchange lessons?
They will help you translate English to Italian, French, Spanish, German, or any other language you are trying to learn. If you have local friends already, ask them if you can do language lessons together.
Haven’t made acquittances yet? Make it a practice to tell people you meet the idea you have about learning each other’s language until you find a person you can do it with. You could also check notices posted on hostel and community bulletin boards.
Once you have a person to practice with, come up with a plan that works for both of you. It could be two or three lessons a week where you could practice conversations with each other. The best thing about this learning method is that you get to master conversational language, including slang- which you won’t find in a typical classroom.
3. Hang Around Native Speakers
Have you been hanging out with people who speak your native language only? Venture outside your comfort zone by surrounding yourself with people who speak the native language.
That way, you will be immersing yourself into the language and culture of the people. You can go shared accommodation and choose a native to be your roommate.
If you are invited to events by local friends, say yes and take advantage of them to polish up your language skills. Attend those birthdays, weddings, and any other gatherings that give you a chance to interact with locals.
While you spend time with natives:
- Carry a notebook to write down new vocabulary
- Reply with the foreign language even if they speak to you in English
- Practice new things you’ve learned recently by adding them to your sentences
- Ask questions where you get confused
- Be keen about the feedback you get- especially where you get things wrong- so that you can improve
Interacting with native speakers is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to learn a new language. So, take advantage of it.
4. Practice Every Day
Practice does make you more fluent. The more you practice, the better you get.
So, to learn faster, you have to practice at every chance you get. Do it during your spare time or when you are doing menial tasks. Use the language at least a few times a day. You could install an app on your phone so that you can practice wherever you are.
Practice every day; even if some days you dedicate more time than others. Repeat new words, phrases, or sentences you learn from natives before the day ends so that you don’t forget it.
Most importantly, use the language you are trying to learn in your everyday conversations.
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5. Pay for Tutoring Lessons
Finally, you could increase the speed at which you learn a foreign language by hiring a tutor.
Tutoring lessons with an experienced teacher will help you get the grammar right. Plus, you get to have someone you can practice your speech on and gain valuable feedback from.
Go for one-on-one tutoring, especially in the early stages of your learning journey so that lessons can be tailored to your needs.
With just you and the tutor, you will also learn at your own pace and only move to the next thing once you have correctly understood the previous concept.
However, unlike the previous tips, this one is not free. It is still valuable, however, especially if you are learning from scratch.
All in all, learning a foreign language as an adult is hard.
Most days will be great as you discover or learn new things. However, expect not to be so confident on some days when you struggle to put together sentences.
And if you have to go back home before you reach your goal, appreciate the incredible progress you have made and keep learning. Don’t give up.
Stock Photo from Floral Deco @ Shutterstock