As an Expat one of the most intimidating parts of moving to a foreign country is not knowing the local language. The fear of not being able to communicate can be unnerving, but easily conquered. Remember, you learned a language once before, you’ll do it again.
Here are 5 Tips for Expats Learning a Foreign Language:
Enroll in Language Classes Before You Go.
The best way to learn a new language is to jump right in. Once you decide you’re moving, enroll in language classes and start learning. Language resources are everywhere. Register for a class at your local community college, find a class online, or purchase language learning software. By the time you arrive in your country you will know the basic survival words – hello, thank you, help, etc.
Learn Common Words First.
After you’ve learned your survival words, start identifying common words or phrases that will be helpful to you in your everyday situations. Sure it’s fun to learn how to sing Happy Birthday in your new language, but that’s probably not going to help you when you’re trying to get directions across town. Make a list of situations you may find yourself in, and start learning the words associated with them. You’ll pick up the fun stuff as you go.
Carry a Pocket Dictionary.
It takes time to learn a language, so expect that there will be occasions when you are at a loss for words. This is where a pocket dictionary comes in handy, and it can be as easy as downloading an app to your phone. If you find yourself struggling to come up with a word you can easily look it up. The dictionary will also act as your security blanket, so you’ll be more confident in trying to communicate with the locals.
The best way to learn a new language is to start using it. Get out into your new city, meet new people, and start putting your new skills to the test. As an Expat it can be easy to get caught up in your Expat community, making interaction with locals limited. But there are many ways to get immersed in the local culture. Studying the names of vegetables can be great, but a trip to the local market to buy ingredients for a native dish you’re making for your friends can be a lesson you’ll never forget.
You’re Going to Make Mistakes, and it’s Okay.
You have to accept that you are going to mess up. You’re going to forget words. You’re going to call things by the wrong name. Hey, you may even make a fool of yourself. The important thing is that you keep trying. Most people are helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.