How to Learn a Language When Living Abroad
One of the most exciting (and intimidating) things about moving to a new country is learning to
speak a new language. Perhaps you’ve moved to a country where English is not widely spoken,
or you’re just keen to broaden your horizons and learn a valuable new skill. So without further a due here a hopefully useful list of resources on How to Learn a Language When Living Abroad.
Either way, learning a language is a great idea. Learning the language of the country you live in will make you feel far more comfortable and accepted in your local community, and there’s
really no better opportunity to learn a new language than when you’re surrounded by it. In some
countries, you may even need to have a level of proficiency to obtain certain visas.
On the other hand, if you’ve moved to an English-speaking country and want to learn a different
language, that’s great too! Learning a new language opens up a range of possibilities. Travel is
much richer when you speak the local language and can have discussions with people rather
than relying on hand gestures! Plus, it can be a really good move for your career as well.
Here are some helpful resources to help you learn a new language while living abroad.
Language Learning Apps
A great option for learning a new language is using an app. They’re perfect for using during
spare moments or commutes, and they’re usually a lot of fun. Here’s some of the best.
– one of the most popular languages learning apps, Duolingo makes learning a new language a lot of fun. It uses simple activities and a rewards-based ‘badged’ system to keep you motivated. The only downside to Duolingo is that you can only do so much per day before you need to pay money, which becomes very expensive if you are trying to learn quickly – so it’s generally best for more casual users.
– we love how Memrise has gone outside of the box with its fabulous language learning app. Content on Memrise is user-collated, so there are resources on pretty much every language imaginable, which is great if you are learning a language outside the big names like Mandarin, Spanish or French. Plus, they use funny memes and gamification to make learning fun – however, it’s all rooted in science. Highly recommended.
Busuu – long before Duolingo, Busuu was one of the first online learning resources and today it
has a great app as well as a website. Access to all the coursework costs $17/month (although
there are free features), however, the best thing about Busuu is that chatting with native
speakers by voice and text is an ingrained part of the learning process.
– one of the most important aspects of learning a language is chatting with native
speakers, but it can be intimidating! HelloTalk is essentially a language swap where you can
chat with patient native speakers, who will correct your chats. The idea is that you will then pay it forward by helping others who are learning English.
– those who like to learn by having fun will love Mindsnacks, which is a fun and
gamified way to learn. It’s a great addition to traditional language learning resources, although it only supports seven popular languages at the moment.
Online Language Learning Resources
While apps are great, many people also like using more traditional websites, as it can be easier
to focus when notifications aren’t popping up! Here are some great language learning sites:
LiveLingua – https://www.livelingua.com/ – a very comprehensive list of free and open-source
language learning resources available online, including courses, videos and e-books. There are
resources for over 130 different languages.
Open Culture – http://www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons – another comprehensive
listing of free resources available on the web, Open Culture lists over 40 different languages
from Ancient Greek to Yiddish! Its interface is not the most user friendly, but the content is great.
Innovative Language – https://www.innovativelanguage.com/ – you may have heard of
Innovative Language’s podcasts – they’re really good! Although the range of languages is more
limited than others on this list, this website uses audio and video really effectively to help you become fluent more quickly.
Alison.com – https://alison.com/courses/language – Alison is a collection of free language
courses – we love this website because unlike bigger names like Coursera and EduX, it is free
to get a certificate of recognition, as long as you get more than 80% on the coursework.
Rosetta Stone – http://www.rosettastone.co.uk/ – one of the most well-known names in language
learning, Rosetta Stone was one of the first companies to embrace the power of the internet for
language learning. Today, its resources are a little pricey, but the quality is exceptional.
Offline Language Learning Resources
Learning a language in-person is a great alternative (or supplement) to learning online.
Generally, in-person courses give you access to a native-speaking teacher, as well as the
benefit of classmates to practice with.
It’s a good idea to look at local adult education centres, universities or libraries who may run
courses. A good place to start is Coursefinders (https://coursefinders.com/en/) which lists many
different language courses all over the world.
Lastly, keep a lookout for websites that facilitate language exchange with locals. When I lived in Barcelona, for example, I used tusclassesparticularis.com . I not only got to meet and speak with friendly locals but I made some great friends too.
And lastly a little inspiration: