So you’ve decided to learn a new language–congratulations! If you’ve already started the process, you know that it requires dedication and lots of practice. You may even be dreaming of the opportunity to live abroad in a place where the language is spoken by natives, immersing yourself in a whole new culture and learning through osmosis. As dreamy as that sounds, it’s just not realistic for most working adults. But not to fret, just because you can’t pack up tomorrow and move to Bolivia, Portugal, or China doesn’t mean you can’t master Spanish, Portuguese, or Mandarin. To the contrary, I’m here to share 4 reasons why you don’t need to live abroad to learn a new language.
1) We live in a plugged-in world
In the 1980s, classroom learning and cassette tapes might have been the only way to learn a new language. Fortunately, today’s learners have a lot more options to consider. If you’re glued to your smart phone, for example, download a few apps that will help you build your vocabulary and learn sentence structure. If you’re obsessed with social media, follow major brands that post in the language you’re trying to learn. Can’t get enough celebrity gossip or love to read about the latest fashion trends online? Find online publications to learn about all the hottest pop culture topics and trends in France, Germany, or Japan.
2) You can choose the type of instruction that works for you
No matter what your learning style is, you can find language instruction to meet your needs. If you are a visual learner, sign up for an online program that encourages hands-on involvement. If you thrive in a classroom setting, join local language instruction classes. Check out the local Italian or Korean community center and ask about workshops and events that are open to the public.
3) Everyone gets vacation time
If you want to go the immersion route, even a short vacation gives you the opportunity to do so. Schedule a vacation abroad and focus on exposing yourself to the local language as much as possible. Challenge yourself to not speak a word of English the whole time. Go on tours in the local language and purchase a stack of newspapers or magazines to take home to practice your reading and comprehension skills.
4) You can study anywhere and everywhere
You are the one who sets limits on how much or how little you study. It’s easy to make excuses, but the reality is that language learning can easily be part of everyday life for all of us. We can watch TV in Spanish, read magazines or books in French, or visit Chinatown to get familiar with the sounds of a foreign language. If you make even a little effort, you’ll start experiencing the joy that comes with learning a new language.
Dusty Fox is a full-time writer and world traveler who especially loves Latin American culture. She represents Listen & Learn, which offers language training and a variety of free online games, like the Spanish Verbs Race.