Monday 4 August 2008

Learning the Local Lingo

Updated 18 February 2012

When moving to another country, learning the language can mean adjusting to the lifestyle or remaining an outsider.

Things that Impact Language Learning

  1. Language difficulty: Here are the world's most difficult languages. The Foreign Service has also ranked them. Here's language ranked according to difficulty for native English speakers.
  2. Necessity: What do you do in those countries and are you likely to encounter English speakers?
  3. Location: If you're in a big city with people who speak English, you will have less motivation to learn the local language.
  4. Personal reasons: Can range from length of stay, to motivation, to relationships, etc.

Media for Language Learning
Assimil, Fluenz, How to Learn Any Language, Memrise, Michel Thomas, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone are popular.
  • Watching TV or movies is very useful. Put on closed captioning so you can listening and read at the same time.
  • Listening to the radio will also help you get more accustomed to the language and its accents.
  • Emailing, forums, and chatting are also good.
  • Reading helps a lot. You can learn grammar and vocab as well as useful expressions.
Language Partners
These are a great way to meet the locals or you could find another foreigner and just spend the entire time trying to talk in the target language. You can talk about family, local news, or just practise reading aloud. You can find language partners on Conversation Exchange and italki.

More Language Learning Tips

  • Post-its. Putting up little notes can help you learn about things around you.
  • Practise, Practise, Practise. Don’t give up.
  • Use different learning styles
  • Read aloud. Just looking at the words won’t help you when you have to have a conversation. After a while, you’ll notice that the words come out faster, you’ll have less of an accent, and it will increase your grammar and vocabulary.
  • Stop translating. Although it may seem easier to think in English and then translate to the target language, it’s way too confusion, takes a long time, and some things simply don’t translate. Make a point of thinking in the language you’re using.
  • Read more about learning languages in learning the local language while teaching ESL and all Japanese all the time. Although it's geared towards Japanese, it still has tons of language learning tips.
  • Read part 2 of this series: learning the local lingo while teaching ESL.
Also published in . . .
This article has also been published in the ELT Times.


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