Do You Need to Learn a Language to Travel Abroad?

While you don’t necessarily need to learn the language to travel to that country on vacation, say a week, you will need to learn it if you plan on traveling abroad for school or work or for any length of time. Learning Mandarin Chinese or Brazilian Portuguese prior to your trip can help immensely in communicating with others and getting around the cities.

On the other side of the coin, traveling abroad can speed up your language learning through immersion. Numerous studies show that immersing yourself in the new language in the country of your choosing can help you learn and retain a new language. It’s particularly helpful if you’re on the fast track for language learning and don’t have years to perfect the process. Sitting in stuffy classrooms will only take you so far. That’s where traveling abroad comes in.

The main advantage to this is that you can try out your burgeoning skills on the natives with whom you’ll interact every day. When you’re immersed in a foreign city, you are naturally forced to speak as they speak. Instead of squeaking by on weekly lessons that dole out new tips a little bit at a time, you’re thrown into the process head on.

Getting Feedback

The other main benefit to learning a language abroad is the ability to get feedback and constructive criticism in real time. Native speakers can check – and correct — your progress as you go. Then, you’ll know right away whether you used the right word for something or whether you pronounced it correctly. Practice makes perfect but you can’t really make much forward progress if you don’t get feedback. Gaining confidence comes hand in hand with this.

Tell the person you’re speaking with that it’s all right to correct your pronunciation and grammar. You should learn the language first, then focus on grammar later, in order to get context before tackling the rules. In conjunction with learning alongside native speakers, take in all the media you can, from websites and podcasts to movies and TV shows. This will fill in the context, culture and slang for you to round out your learning.

Keep goals in mind to aspire to, such as holding a meeting with a new client entirely in the native language, or conversing fluently with the owner of the bodega on the corner. Studies consistently show that when you gain basic conversational proficiency in this way, language learning happens much faster – in just several weeks in many cases.

The key is to stay on top of the language. Volunteer in your community, meet with colleagues after work, and converse with people as you go about your daily business, from bank tellers to customers at the local coffee shop.

Start the learning process with a free trial from BRIC Language Systems today.