Learning a new language is always a good idea: it will help you get to know the world a bit better and it will also give you an opportunity to meet a lot of great people.
To be honest, learning a new language isn’t all fun and games, it can be boring and plain frustrating at some points, but it’s also worth it.
The best way to become as fluent as possible in another language is to travel to another country, and even then there are things you can do that will help you get better at it.
Leave your comfort zone
Let’s be honest: everyone likes the idea of learning something in the comfort of their own home while being surrounded by helpful people and items (dictionaries and learning apps). On the other hand, there is nothing that’s going to motivate and inspire you more than bare necessity.
When you find yourself in a situation that you need something, you won’t hesitate to communicate your need, no matter how poorly you know the other language. Classrooms and hostels where a bunch of other people knows your native language are comfortable, but travelling to a different place, going to a market or a café and communicating with locals is the best way to improve those rusty language skills.
Lessons are welcome
Even though this might be contradictory to the first point we made, it’s really. In order to improve your language skills, you should have a basic understanding of the foreign language first. Of course, you can try learning from scratch, but it’s going to be much faster and easier if you have some previous knowledge.
Don’t hesitate to enroll in advanced English study course in Sydney, beginner Spanish course in Madrid, or improve your rusty French in Paris. Formal studies will give you a basic approach to the structure of a foreign language, its grammar and pronunciation rules, and this knowledge will help you build your way up much faster and more effectively.
Still, make sure you focus on listening and speaking more, as it will make the foreign language sound not-so-foreign later on.
Learning by doing
In order to soak the knowledge and new information in, you need to listen actively. Sadly, it’s harder than it sounds: it requires high levels of concentration and it can really be draining. On the other hand, active listening is one of the best ways to learn a new language as you’ll be paying close attention and start noticing patterns.
Little bits of vocabulary, the tone of voice and repeated phrases will start catching your attention, and you’ll soon start using some of these things yourself. Keep a dictionary close but don’t hesitate to speak and test all these conclusions you’ve reached.
Keep an open mind
You don’t even pay attention to the size of your vocabulary as an adult, but the moment you start learning a new language you’ll notice how difficult it can be to accurately express yourself. While it can be frustrating, it’s also a great motivation and a chance to learn and grow.
With your limited vocabulary, you should try channeling your inner child (let’s be honest: we all have one) and speak in simple words and phrases. Try to get your point across without using dozens of verbs and complicated tenses.
Your goal is to communicate as accurately as possible, but do try to avoid slang until you master the language a bit better.
As frustrating as it can be to find yourself unable to communicate as openly as you’re used to, the experience can also be very humbling. You shouldn’t give in to anger and frustration easily, but rather try to work on your weak points and improve your skills with patience.
By being open with other people about not knowing a word or a phrase you’re learning to rely not only on your set of skills but on the kindness of other people too. Being humble instead of angry and open-minded instead of frustrated will allow you to see beauty and kindness in others and help you overcome obstacles much faster and with much more grace.
It’s impossible to master any skill overnight; it takes a lot of practice, dedication, and patience in order to become good at something and the same goes for learning another language.
You can achieve a lot by travelling, not just getting to know other people and their culture better, but learning their language and customs as well. Feel free to enjoy your trip but remember that by making a small effort you will learn a lot.