Monday, 17 February 2014

Do you speak the language?

Moving abroad is likely to present all sorts of new challenges. And when you arrive in a new place, it can feel very alienating if you don’t speak the language – so it’s common for many expats to prioritise this or even make a start before the move. However long you intend to be in your new country for, mastering the lingo or even just conquering a couple of choice phrases is likely to make a real difference to helping you to feel more at home. Here are a few of our top tips to help you on your way: 

Image source: Creative Common/Seedcamp Photos
Practice makes (almost!) perfect
It can feel daunting attempting to try and speak a language that you aren’t fluent in. It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious, but in many places, making the effort to speak the language is a great way to earn expat kudos – as well as a great opportunity to test your understanding! You’ll find most people are helpful and willing to lend a hand to help you get there. Take the opportunity to try out your skills at the local supermarket, strike up conversation with your neighbours or seek out colleagues who have five minutes to spare for a chat. And practice really does make perfect!

A little at a time
You wouldn’t climb a mountain in a day – and the same principle applies when it comes to learning a new language. Take it a bit at a time and break things down into manageable chunks to tackle when you have the time. At what is likely to be a very busy time in your life, there are bound to be other demands on your time so it’s worth spending a while to consider how you can fit in the language learning with whatever else you’re doing. With plenty of audio courses, podcasts and apps available to help make life a little easier, it’s well worth taking a look at what’s out there.

Image source: Creative Common/Lucelia Ribeiro
One for the kids
If you’re moving abroad with your family, particularly children, it’s likely that they’ll feel similarly overwhelmed at the prospect too. It’s generally believed that children find it much easier to pick up new languages than adults. While being young and able to absorb ideas faster will help, you might find that your kids are anxious at the prospect of feeling alienated or left out. While it’s inevitable that there are times when they may feel left out, it’s important to reassure them that this won’t always be the case. If your children are attending an international school, you’ll find that there will be a variety of languages spoken there which will help to boost learning while also helping children to retain a good command of their mother tongue.

What are your tips for mastering a new lingo? Share them with us and other expats here.

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