How long do you suppose you have to stay in an overseas location in order to become fluent in the local language? A year? Two? Many would agree that extended overseas stays can do wonders for your level in a second language. We call it “immersion” and it’s well established in our minds. Did you also know, however, that shorter excursions can help, too?
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It’s true! If you take even short trips to places where they speak your chosen second language, there are numerous great benefits of which you can take advantage.
🧠 Use What You’ve Learned
It doesn’t take months or years to go to a place and start using the vocabulary and sentence structures that you’ve been learning in your online class with your native speaker teacher. You can put more of that language into a real-world context and use it with native speakers. Once you’ve applied some of the words and phrases you’ve learned into real conversations, they’ll never leave you. Usage is always more effective than learning words from notes.
👋 They’re Native Speakers
If you’ve been learning for some time, you’ve likely already discovered the many benefits of practicing your language with native speakers. Even an hour a week or so with your native speaker teacher has helped you more than a semester of classes in a big group or with a non-native teacher. So, no matter how long your trip, the chance to get try your language out with other native speakers with a voice different to that of your teacher is priceless.
🧳 Less Paperwork and Luggage
Living abroad can be a logistical nightmare depending on which country it is and which country you are from. Residents of the EU, for example, can more easily sample life in other member states without any paperwork. Learners of Russian or Chinese, on the other hand, who plan to live in those countries have to battle through a lot of red tape first.
Even after you get there, adjusting to a new life is difficult, and moving from place to place can incur great expense and risk each time (ever lost a shipping crate before?). When you think of all this, it starts to look quite rosy being able to use a shorter trip to a place as a way to practice your language.
Let’s say you’re studying a language like Spanish or French. These are truly international languages with speakers across the entire globe. You can therefore use shorter trips to vary your experiences with native speakers. You can first try speaking with the Castilian crowd in Spain, but then try your hand another time conversing with people in Latin America. Short trips mean more variety, and that in turn means more experience for you as a learner.
Short trips mean less overall cost. If you’re learning on a budget, then emigration or long-stay vacations may be impossible. None of that should mean that you miss out on these key language-learning opportunities, though. As we’ve explained above, you can still benefit greatly even from just spending a weekend in a place where your second language is spoken natively. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg!
🥳 Motivation Boost
Finally, one extra benefit that short trips can give you is some extra motivation to not give up. Language learning can get tough sometimes. When you feel like you’re hitting a wall or failing to move up the difficulty ladder as you had been in the beginning, it’s easy to abandon the journey altogether. A little trip away to a place where you can test out your skills is a real eye-opener. You either realize where you’re going wrong, and become more focused on how to improve your abilities, or you succeed in most of your exchanges and thus are spurred on to expand your repertoire!
🏔️ In the end, you have to grab every opportunity
Becoming a strong language learner is about taking hold of every learning opportunity that comes your way. Always remember that it’s using your new language knowledge; applying it to real-life context, that will help you to retain in the long term. If you stick to your classes and book learning alone, it may stay with you for a short time, but not long after a lack of use, it will fade away.
Using language doesn’t require emigration or any kind of long-term stay in an overseas location. Even short trips can give you that all-important boost that you need to stay confident and motivated to keep going.
🎉 Get started!
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