Picking up a new language can be one of the most difficult things you’ll do in your life - especially if you’ve forgotten most of your school-taught French and German! But you’re not alone, the findings of this year’s Expat Explorer revealed that just under a third of expats surveyed found it difficult to pick up the local language once they had moved to their host country.
Source: CreativeCommons StreetFly JZ
Out of the all countries we surveyed, expats in South East Asia were amongst those most likely to struggle with the native tongue. Over half of expats in Hong Kong and Vietnam found learning the local language very difficult compared to just 14% of expats globally. Furthermore, only between one and two out of ten expats in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong agreed that they try to use the local language day-to-day.
So, if you’re concerned that you’ll never be able to chat with ease in your new country here are some tips to help you get started:
- Take a language course before you leave regardless of your ability. If you speak the local language well, this will give you a chance to refresh your knowledge. If you’re a beginner, you’ll quickly find that a little can go a long way
- Stick with it! Even if you’re speaking the language every day, a course will give you a real grounding in grammar and stop you from slipping into bad habits. It will also give you a chance to meet other expats in the same boat as you
- Make local friends. Not only will they be able to help you pick up the language quickly, the chances are they’ll be able show you some great local places to visit, eat out or drink
- Have the confidence to speak the language wherever you go, even if it’s just nipping out to buy some bread. It will also show that you’re willing to make an effort to fit in
- Completely immerse yourself by watching TV and listening to the radio in your local language. There’s also some great language apps available that you’ll be able to use on the go