Updated: Jun 20
For most people who go abroad to study, travel, or live, not being able to speak that country’s native language can be a huge barrier. Maybe you know a little bit of that language, maybe you don’t speak it at all. No matter what the case is for you, the language barrier can make a lot of things less convenient and adds to the experience of culture shock.
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Why is learning the native language important when living abroad?
Daily communication: There are countless daily situations where you may need to communicate in a foreign language: going shopping, taking a bus, buying groceries, reading a menu, etc. You may not experience how important it is until the moment you pick up a cosmetics bottle or a menu and wonder what the words on it mean.
Making friends: A great challenge of living abroad is homesickness, especially when going to a foreign land alone. You may miss your pals or your loved ones back home, and the feeling can be daunting if not properly expressed or solved. A great way to deal with homesickness when being abroad is by making friends with the natives. Try joining clubs or online communities to find like-minded people with who you can not only talk, but also share company. If you know their native language, this process can be even easier.
Taking courses: Although most universities, especially top ones, offer courses taught in English, you’ll see the choices are quite different if you know their native language. You’ll finally be able to choose the course you want to learn and not be restricted by the language barrier. Plus, you can get the chance to significantly improve your language skills, and combine reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills into real practice, intensively.
Here are 4 tips for you to overcome the language barrier when living abroad:
1. Learn the local colloquial:
The best way to pick up the language is to learn from the natives. When you immerse yourself in the culture, your language skills will naturally improve. Besides, getting accustomed to the local lifestyle is also important to ensure that you live a hassle-free life abroad.
2. Use online tools wisely:
There are plenty of online language learning tools out there, some free and some not. But not all of them suit everyone, and the trick is to find the one that works for you. If you are unsure about which one to choose, try LingoDeer. Designed by professional teachers, LingoDeer has high-quality content that gets you covered with listening, speaking, reading, and writing in no time. It’s not entirely free but it’s totally worth the money.
3. Start early:
With all the chaos of moving, you may be too busy to start learning a new language. If you’re moving from the US to Japan, for example, it’ll be almost impossible to study from scratch while moving as the two languages differ dramatically. In this case, it’s best to familiarize yourself at least a bit with the native language before you start moving. For example, if you can spare learning 15 minutes with LingoDeer, you’ll be fluent in 3 to 6 months.
4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes:
The biggest mistake any language learner can make is probably being afraid of making mistakes. As a language learner, you may feel stupid when you think like an adult but talk like a baby. Don’t be afraid, as it’s just a phase.
I hope after reading this article, you can feel a bit more confident about overcoming the language barrier and living your life abroad to the fullest.
Edited by Sophia Pedigo