Moving to a new country: Tips for learning a new language

Moving internationallyMoving abroad can be both exciting and daunting, but it is certainly a brave choice that affords you with many new challenges and growth opportunities that you will appreciate down the road. One of the first challenges you will encounter in your new country is learning a foreign language. There are a lot of methods to foreign language learning, but each way has its own pros and cons. There is no definite “best” way to learn a foreign language because each person’s learning style is different.

Embrace the challenges of moving to a culturally diverse city and embracing a new language and culture

Some people prefer a more methodical approach. This typically involves enrolling at an institution such as a university, a specialized language center or cultural institute. With this approach, there are various options available and you can even choose your level of rigor. For specialized language centers and cultural institutes in particular, you are often able to choose to learn at a regular or more intensive pace and take certification tests to demonstrate your competency. This way tends to be more traditional, and will enforce that you learn the proper grammar and vocabulary first by means of repetitive textbook exercises. The structured approach is good for people who have many other commitments and can only set aside a certain block of time in a week. This method typically has an added benefit: you are enrolled in a class with people who are at the same level as you are. This creates a social learning environment and an opportunity to make new friends who are just as eager to practice their new language skills as you are, perhaps over coffee or dinner after class.

The second approach that suits others better is a less structured one where you teach yourself at your own time and pace. Here, it is not as important to grasp a perfect foundation for grammar and vocabulary as your focus is on finding practical ways to learn. This may include language-learning software such as Rosetta Stone®, usage of free online resources such as podcasts, videos and open courseware or utilizing your local library’s resources. You may also watch TV programs and films in that foreign language with subtitles of your native language, look for native speakers in your area or online to practice with, and start correspondence with international pen pals. This approach is ideal for those who cannot afford to spend time or money on a class, prefer to learn by themselves and at their own speed, and have a less flexible schedule. However, learning on your own may mean that it is harder to practice. Also, it is harder for you to know when you are making mistakes.

Bear in mind that you don’t have to select one method only. It’s a good idea to combine two or more so that they complement each other. The most important aspect of learning a new language is verbal practice. Allow yourself to be immersed in that language and its unique culture, and bring an open mind. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes, as this is a natural part of the learning process, and do not let your fear of stumbling through a new language stop you from succeeding.

For more information about international moves and how we can help make your transition easier, give us a call. We’d love to help you plan your journey.