When to Travel to a Foreign Country to Learn a New Language

Congratulations on your desire to learn a new language! By broadening your horizons, you open yourself up to new adventures and potential business opportunities. If you are in a hurry to learn a new language, you may consider the old advice that we have all heard in the past. Travel to a foreign country to learn a new language. However, it is not always so easy.

While traveling to a foreign country is a wonderful experience, without the proper preparations, you could be setting yourself up for failure before you even start. To give yourself the best chance for success, we have some tips on when to move and how to do it right.

Don’t Leave Right Away  

For years, there has been a famous anecdote that says something to the effect of: “immersion in the country is the best way to learn a language.” While there is some truth to that, it is not really the best advice. If you travel long-term to a foreign country without knowing a single word of the language, you will likely end up lost, and you could land yourself in big trouble. There is no way to learn a new language through osmosis. Instead, it takes time, dedication, and repetition.

Before you board a plane for your new temporary home, you should take the time to learn the basics. Take a class in school, have lessons online, or at least read a book covering the basics of the language. This ensures that you have something to build upon. Before choosing a country to live temporarily, you will also want to research the country itself to see what languages they speak. For instance, you’ll want to learn Italian before you travel to Italy, but you may also want to take some Latin as well because many phrases come from Latin inspiration.

At the very minimum, you should learn some of the basic phrases and grammatical building blocks before you go. That way, you can at least make your way around. Think about what food you like and learn how to ask for it at a restaurant. Also, memorize common phrases that you’ll need regularly, like asking for the bathroom and for directions. Once you have learned the basics, you can then start to think more seriously about making the move.

Travel When You Have Your Affairs in Order

You may be extremely excited to learn a new language, but you will want to take your time and get your affairs in order before your big move. Even moving from one side to another in a large city can be stressful when you don’t know where everything is. So just imagine that same scenario when you don’t even know the language fluently!

Before you travel long-term, be sure to secure a place to call your home base. Research the neighborhood so you know the locations of the nearby restaurants, gas stations, your place of business if you’ve secured a temporary job, and any other place you will need to travel to regularly. Keep in mind that living in a new place with a new language, regardless of the length of time, can also be stressful as you try to get your bearings. You can combat anxiety before it begins by getting plenty of exercise, practicing self-care, eating as healthy as you can, and keeping yourself busy with your online language classes.

Once you do move, it is a good idea to try to socialize with people when you get the chance. Many people in other countries are also bilingual, so there is a chance that you will meet someone who can communicate with you and also teach you a bit more about your new language. They can also help you find things like local medical care, which is always important.

If they invite you to a safe place like a school or work function, consider joining. Not only will you meet new people, but you can learn different dialects as well.

You Don’t Have to Travel

Something must also be said about whether you really need to travel to a different country in the first place. If you are only traveling because you want to learn the language as fast as possible, you need to ask yourself why. If you are learning the language because you need it for work or you have fallen in love with someone and you want to connect on a deeper level, then you may have a good reason to travel long-term. If you just want to learn a new language to challenge yourself, then consider whether a drastic relocation is really necessary. 

While you are thinking about that, keep in mind that just sending some of your belongings from here to there could cost up to $10,000. That does not include rent or the price of a temporary home. Can you afford that just to learn a language faster? Or is it better to stay home, keep your job, and continue to take language classes at home? Consider both options.

We cannot talk about traveling to a new country without mentioning COVID-19’s effects on travel and the world. Research the country you want to travel to and see how it is doing as far as coronavirus vaccines and safety guidelines. If COVID cases are on the rise, consider postponing your trip until it’s safe. You can get this information by visiting a neutral source like the local center for disease control or you can speak to an epidemiologist. Such an expert can give you reliable information that you can’t get anywhere else.

In the end, how you decide to learn your new language is entirely up to you. Consider the tips above and make the best decision for your current situation. Whatever you choose, best of luck on your new adventure!

Beau Peters

Beau Peters