If you've lived abroad for a bit I'm sure you've run into people who eagerly tell you their plans to go abroad (often to teach English) for a year and become fluent. More likely than not this will not happen.
Sure, there are plenty of people who have learnt the local language, but it takes a plan that you need to follow through and it often takes more than a year.
Here are some reasons why expats don't learn the local language.
- Not immersed in the language. If you're going abroad to teach English, you're going to be immersed in English, not the foreign language. You're being paid to speak English after all.
- No time to study/not a priority. If you're going abroad in order to learn a foreign language you're going to have to focus entirely on that and it's hard to do if you're working full-time. Other people don't make it a priority. Perhaps they'd rather learn about the local cuisine, art, sport, or simply spend time with their family.
- Not in country long enough. Often takes a couple years to learn a language well.
- Not a useful language. For expats who want to learn a language and use it back home, uncommon languages might not be worth the time and effort.
- The people aren't helpful. Many times people downright refuse to try to understand you, which is really hard for English teachers who spend most of their days trying to decipher bad English. Sometimes they ramble on in their language without trying to simplify it at all. In addition, it's much easier for people who have studied English for a handful of years to practice their English on you than it is for you to practice their language if you've only studied it for a bit.
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