Monday, 23 March 2015

Make like a native – how to learn the language of the locals

Learning a new language can be one of the biggest challenges of becoming an expat, but if you really want to make friends, getting to grips with the lingo from the locals is a must.
Many expats recommend that getting to know your new neighbours is the best way to become a part of your new home. Here are our top 5 tips on getting to grips with the local lingo from our experienced expats.

1. Walk everywhere

Taking yourself off public transport and away from just the really well known spots means that you will get to know the real hidden treasures that are right on your doorstep. This will really help in finding out about the culture of the area and what there is to explore which is an opportunity to look out for new words in place names, on signs in shop window and on menus of local cafes.

       2. Get to know your local hairdressers, taxi drivers and shop owners

These are your local experts who will know everyone and everything that you need to know about how to fit in with your new neighbourhood. A simple smile is a great way to start a conversation. People will always been enthusiastic to tell you about the local heritage they are proud of and through listening to their knowledge, you will start to pick up words and phrases you haven’t found in guidebooks.

3. Don’t get completely caught up in the tourist traps

For the same reason that it is good to make friends with your neighbours, as an expat you are there to become a new local, not just for a holiday. So if you really want to make your new location your new home, don’t just rely on the local tourist guides but get to know your new culture in the same way that you would get to know a new neighbourhood at home. If you are from London you wouldn't just visit the London Eye every weekend, get to know what is unique about where you are living and that will help you to become more of a native.

       4. Read your favourite book or watch a native soap opera

That great beach read is about to become a very handy way to learn new words. If you can get a copy of a novel you are familiar with in the new language you are trying to learn, you will have found a very quick way to find new words to add into conversations with your new friends. This is a great way to take your foreign language fluency from textbook level to local level.

5. Cheers!

If it’s a sunny afternoon, a great way to get to know the real local language is to enjoy a spot of people watching in a favourite local café, restaurant or bar. Listen out for key phrases locals are using to greet each other, to make orders and chat to their friends and you will soon be able to expand your language far beyond what you have learnt in textbooks and language guides.  

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