How easy is it to learn a new language?
An expat guide to learning a new language
Have you ever dreamed of working abroad? Travelling to new places, experiencing new cultures, food and people? How about advancing your career by learning from the best in the field? Many of our applicants are frightened by the thought of having to learn a new language. They think it's going to be impossible or take too long or cost too much money. They couldn't be more wrong. If you're prepared to put in some time and effort, you can learn basic conversation in just a few months. In the countries that Mundialz represents, most people will be able to speak English. Most of the companies will use English as their corporate language. But, if you want to integrate into society and ultimately succeed in your career, learning a new language will give you the edge you need.
Have the right attitude
It all starts with attitude. You're going to need to make a commitment. No matter how you decide to learn, either with private individual lessons or a free app, there are no short cuts. You must put in the time. Carve out an hour a day in your schedule to sit down and study. The rest of the time, try and immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Babies learn through listening. They listen for nearly 2 years before they start speaking, and we expect as adults to do it straight away! The radio, TV, podcasts are all excellent sources for listening practise. Try simple factual programmes at first, such as cookery shows or daytime talk shows. Even if you can't understand it, your brain is busy digesting, and one day it will just click.
Get a dictionary
Either an online version on your phone or an old-fashioned paper version. Look around you and name the things you can see. Don't be afraid to use your dictionary. Stick post-it notes on things around the house. Learn the verbs associated with those things, such as 'boil the kettle' or 'watch the TV'. Read articles in the newspaper or even restaurant menus and translate the texts. Online apps such as Duolingo or +Babbel can be a great introduction to the language. Don't worry too much about learning grammar in the beginning. Once you know a bunch of the most common nouns and verbs, you can start to understand texts and speech and will be able to get by in everyday life. Grammar can come later.
The most crucial part of learning a language is using it. Just do it. Don't think too hard about it. People will understand that you're learning and will appreciate your efforts. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, mistakes are part of it, they help you learn. Paradoxically, intelligent people often find it difficult to learn languages because they are perfectionists and are afraid of looking silly. Striving for perfection is a waste of time. Learning a language is a journey, and you have to start somewhere. If you can find someone to talk with, it will really help to speed up the process. Force yourself into situations where you need to speak, even if it's awkward. Joining a conversation class is a great way to stretch your vocabulary and get you talking about subjects you're not familiar with.
Talk to yourself
You might feel silly at first but talking to yourself is a great way to practise. Narrate your day: 'I am leaving the house, the sun is shining, I'm locking the door with my key and getting into my car'. Say it out loud and listen to your pronunciation. Use the audio function on google translate to practise how to say difficult words. Describe the people you see, the scene around you and try to use new words. No need to be afraid of making mistakes, no one else can hear you! Reading aloud can also help with pronunciation and fluidity. The more you use the words, the more familiar they will become in your mouth. Watch TV and repeat the actors' dialogue, try to match their tone.
Intensive course vs extended learning
You might decide you need an actual real-life teacher to learn the language properly. Having someone to correct you and answer your questions is invaluable. Ordinary native speakers may be too polite to correct you when you go wrong. A qualified, experienced teacher can guide you through the learning process, identify your weaknesses and explain grammar rules effectively. Many choose an intensive course which focuses on teaching you a lot in minimal time. They do this by applying language immersion techniques and memory tricks to 'brainwash' you as fast as possible. Intensive courses tend to be on the expensive side. Still, they can be very successful, allowing you to see quick results. As compelling as intensive courses can be, language learning is a lifetime journey of practice and application. Some people believe it is better to learn at a steady pace, where you have time to consolidate your learning, to really absorb and understand it.
Whichever method you choose to learn your preferred language, you're not going to regret your efforts. Being able to say even a few token words to your new colleagues and neighbours will earn you massive amounts of goodwill. Plus, studies have shown that learning a new language can improve memory and concentration and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Not to mention that it could open a world of opportunity career-wise.
Emma Samson | Content writer of Mundialz.com | Januari 2020
Emma is a British expat, living in the Netherlands with her family for the past 12 years. Working as a freelance copywriter and English teacher, she has a light-hearted insider view of the expat experience. Suffering from a severe Netflix addiction, she enjoys spontaneity and procrastination in equal measure.