Want to get a head start on learning the lingo before moving abroad? Here are some fun ways to inject a foreign language into your everyday life.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the best way to learn a foreign language is by immersing yourself in a country where it is spoken. You can’t help but soak up the language when surrounded by the sights and sounds of the local culture; whether you are chatting with a waiter, asking for directions, or buying groceries at the supermarket.
But what if you want to get a head start on learning the lingo before you jet off abroad? Well, the answer is simple; try to incorporate the language into your everyday life. And more importantly, make it fun! Here are some simple tips to help get you started.
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1. Watch foreign TV channels
Watching foreign television is a great way to pick up new vocabulary and expressions. This is especially true if you tune into the local news which is read clearly and in a neutral accent. With digital packages now the norm in many households, you should be able to access some foreign television channels. If not, you can often pay to upgrade to a package that includes foreign TV. Alternatively, BBC iPlayer offers a selection of news and programs in multiple languages; alongside a plethora of articles, games, and activities for you to test what you’ve learned along the way. What better way to brush up on your knowledge of current affairs, too!
2. Stream foreign movies
If you’re a movie buff, then watching foreign films is a great way to keep you motivated to learn a new language, while entertaining you in the process. This is where streaming services can really come in handy. While Netflix offers only a handful of surprises in the international movies section, platforms such as MUBI and BFI Player provide a much broader selection of classic and world cinema. Better still, many of these movies are free to watch. Just listening to a foreign language and getting the gist of it is a great way to develop your vocabulary and skills. Simply put the subtitles on for reference, and when you’re feeling brave enough, turn them off and see how much you understand. What better way to make learning a foreign language more of a leisurely activity and less of a chore.
3. Attend a language exchange event
The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with international expats in your local area. Online platforms such as Meetup offer an excellent opportunity to discover people with similar interests who you can practice speaking a foreign language with. Chances are, you will find several language Meetup groups that welcome members of all nationalities. The format can vary but usually involves meeting in a café or bar and chatting for an hour or so in a specific foreign language. That way everyone gets the chance to practice. This kind of language exchange is almost as close as you can get to the ‘real thing’. After all, there is no hiding from the person in front of you. Not only is this a great way to get some practice in before you move abroad, it’s also a good opportunity to make new friends.
4. Use a language learning app
While taking language lessons in a classroom is a brilliant way to develop your foreign language skills before you move abroad, there are plenty of language learning apps that can help you acquire the skills for free. Duolingo, Mindsnacks, and Babbel are just some of the popular apps that offer a variety of courses in multiple languages. You can complete the courses in your own time, too, which makes for a fun way to spend your daily commute. The Google Translate app can be very useful in day-to-day life, too. As well as translating text between 103 languages, it allows you to listen to pronunciations so you can get it right with the locals. What’s more, you can use it to instantly translate text by simply pointing your phone’s camera at it. This means you’ll never have to misread a sign or menu again!
5. Eat at a foreign restaurant
What better excuse to ditch your kitchen and eat out than to further your education. Spending an evening at a restaurant that specializes in a particular cuisine is a great way to surround yourself with a new language and culture. If you’re lucky, the décor and menu will be in the foreign language and the waiters will be native speakers. So why not surprise them and talk to them in their own language? Chances are, they will appreciate your efforts to order in another language, and may even correct you which helps. And don’t forget, a glass or two of the local tipple can sometimes go a long way in aiding fluency, too. Now cheers to that!