Travel and Learn Languages Abroad!
Whether you want to learn a new language for work, for travel, or for love, there is no better way to do it than by immersing yourself in the culture and picking it up as you go. And what better way to immerse yourself in a culture than by traveling? Keep reading to discover how you can travel and learn languages abroad.
For some people, the idea of moving to a new country and learning a new language at the same time is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of people who have taken the plunge and come out the other side fluent in their new language, and rich in experiences that they will never forget. Here are three of their stories.
Irina – A Polish woman enjoying a gap year in Barcelona
Irina Mazurkevich is originally from Warsaw but has been living in Barcelona, Spain for the past nine months. She started learning Spanish when she arrived, and despite having had no previous exposure to the language, she is now fluent.
“When I first arrived in Barcelona for a gap year I could barely string a sentence together in Spanish,” Irina recalls. “But I was determined to learn the language, so I signed up for classes at a language school and started practicing as much as I could. It was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. I loved exploring the city and meeting new people, and learning the language was just a bonus, not something that I had to stress over.”
For Irina, one of the best things about learning Spanish has been the opportunities it has opened up for her. “I’ve been able to travel and learn all over Spain, and I’ve made so many friends from different countries. I would never have had these experiences if I hadn’t learned the language.”
Were her lessons at the language school in Barcelona helpful?
“Oh, I ended up quitting those. I found the approach dull and impersonal and, very soon, I realized that I learned more Spanish from going out into the city and having a drink in a bar with a group of strangers than by studying verb declensions in a classroom”.
Irina’s advice to anyone considering moving to a new country and learning a new language is simple: “Just do it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and it has made me rethink what I want to do from now on.”
Martin – A German freelancer in Rome.
Martin Bauer is a graphic designer from Berlin who has been living in Rome, Italy for the past eight years. He arrived in the Eternal City with very little knowledge of Italian and, over time, he has managed to become fluent.
“When my wife told me she had got a great job offer in Italy and we had to relocate to Rome for two years, I almost had a stroke. Don’t get me wrong, I had always been interested in the country and its culture,” Martin explains.
“The thing is, I knew almost nothing about the language. The mere idea of not being able to order a beer or ask for directions in the street terrified me. And yet, there was a voice at the back of my mind that said: just go ahead and do it. If not for you, for her.”
So, that’s what he did. And, according to Martin, it was the best decision he ever made. “Professionally, my life hasn’t changed. I’m a freelancer, so as long as I have my laptop with me, I am able to keep working. And yet, everything has changed. Moving to Italy completely transformed my life. I’ve never been happier.”
“The best way to learn a language, I’ve realized, is by total immersion,” Martin says. “When you live in a country, you’re exposed to the language all the time, and there’s no way to escape it. You just have to go for it and make mistakes. It’s the only way to really learn.”
So, did he learn how to order a beer?
“Of course I did. I did because I had to. That’s the point. You learn to do things in the new language because you need to survive, because you need to participate in a meeting, or just because you want to connect with people on a deeper level. There’s no other way around it.”
Tomás – An Argentinean film student in San Francisco
Tomás, an Argentinean from Rosario, has been living in San Francisco for the past two years while attending film school. He arrived in the city with a very basic level of English, and he has managed to progress to an intermediate level in just a short time.
“I remember my first day in San Francisco like it was yesterday,” Tomás recalls. “I was so excited to be there, but I was also really nervous about my English. I knew that I needed to improve my language skills to make the most of my time in the city, so I signed up for lessons with a native teacher at Language Trainers.
So, how did it go?
“My classes were great, and my teacher was really patient with me. She helped me to improve my pronunciation and my confidence in using the language. I also started to make friends with other students in my class, so I had the opportunity to practice outside of the classroom too.”
Tomás says that this interplay between formal training and social immersion was key to his fast progress. For him, it was a two-way process. Sometimes, he would learn a new grammar rule from his teacher but he would only be able to really internalize it once he saw how people used it in conversation. Other times, he would overhear a phrase being used in everyday life, and he would then go to his teacher to ask for help understanding it.
“Being able to get personalized help from a native speaker has been essential. Instead of learning from a standard English syllabus, I can just go to my teacher and said ‘Hey, can we focus on narrative tenses today? I have to write a short story for a college assignment.’ It’s really amazing.”
It is evident that learning a new language can be a daunting task, but it is possible to do so with the right tools and resources. In this article, we have highlighted the stories of three individuals who were able to travel and learn new languages by moving abroad and immersing themselves in the local culture.
We would like to encourage our readers to go out into the world and pursue their dreams while learning a new language by immersing themselves in a new culture.
If, like Tomás, you want to get extra help from a native speaker to ace your language learning goals while you are abroad, book a free trial class with one of our expert teachers today! At Language Trainers, we offer personalized training based on your specific needs and goals whether you’re starting from scratch or you just need to perfect your accent! Contact us today to get started!