Is Living Abroad the Only Way to Master a New Language?

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Learning a New Language: An Expat's Guide - International Citizens Group

Mastering a new language is a valuable skill no matter your age, occupation, and location. Not only will it open up more doors, help expand your social circle, some studies even claim that it’s good for your brain health and may prevent dementia.

If you’re an adult, it’ll especially be challenging but no less rewarding. Many language tutors, advice columns, and websites would say that the best (some might say the only) way to be completely fluent in a foreign language is to live in the country that speaks and uses the language extensively.

Being able to comfortably use a few words or say complete sentences might not be so hard to do for dedicated language learners. However, if you’d like to absorb the language to the point of understanding the nuances and slangs, what better way to do so than completely surrounding yourself with it as much as possible?

When you live for a period of time in a new country, particularly if your own native language is not used widely or at all there, you essentially have to “force yourself” to hear, speak, read and possibly write the local language at all time. Besides, you will also be exposed to local views, habits, and quirks that shape the vocabularies; you’ll have a better understanding of the language elements and how meanings may change in different context.

That is not to say learning a language on your own elsewhere is absolutely pointless. If anything, dedication and motivation will still get you far and you may eventually be as fluent as a native speaker; it may just take a while to get there.

Here are some ways you can expedite your new language learning aside from packing your bag and browsing for cheap flights to move to a new country:

1. Surround Yourself With The Language

Yes, immersing yourself in the language is still the key here. This can include listening to music, watching movies or TV shows in the target language. Bonus: the wording and terms that the media uses will keep you updated on the culture.

The window for learning a language may stay open surprisingly long

 2. Connect With Other Language Learners

It can be helpful to connect with other people who are also learning the language, whether through a language learning community or a study group. Aside from providing you partners to practice with, this can provide support, motivation, and a sense of camaraderie as you learn the language together.

3. Seek Out Native Speakers

 Find expat communities that speak the language you’re trying to learn. Some of them may be willing to tutor you or agree to a kind of exchange: you teaching them your language while they teach you theirs.

When you engage native speakers to help you, you not only improve your pronunciation and vocabulary, you’ll also be able to ease into more a natural conversational pace.

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