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Travel for Personal Development - What is the best way to learn a new Language?

What is the best way to learn a new Language?

>> Over the years I noticed travelling had an immensely positive impact on me. Especially solo travel can push us out of our comfort zone and teach us many aspects of our personalities. It highlights our strengths and weaknesses and helps us develop tools to live a richer & more fulfilling life. I knew I wasn’t the only one who reaped the benefits of travelling for personal development.

This guest post series introduces you to others who have, in one way or another, travelled for personal development: be it to learn a new language, to mend a broken heart or to overcome an anxiety. Hopefully it will encourage you to travel more yourself and perhaps even help you to overcome barriers. <<

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What is the best way to learn a new Language?

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There are many reasons to go abroad. Some people do it for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, others for fun and others do it for a form of personal development. Focusing on the last, there are many ways to develop ourselves. Suppose you want to learn a new skill. Skills can be many things. One can learn to dance, to dive, to improve communication skills, etc… But one very important skill that travelling is perfect for: it can help you learn a new language very quickly. So, what do you think is the fastest way to learn a language?

best way to learn a new language

(Passau) Image via Flickr CC from Mr. Thinktank

Most people will sign up for a language course of two hours per week in their home country with an aim to learn a language fluently in one or two years. Others will go abroad because they think, quite rightly, that the best way to learn a language is by doing it in the country where that language is spoken. I couldn’t agree more! Although I am also aware that many people can’t go abroad for personal circumstances or work commitments. But for those of you who have the opportunity to go abroad, I strongly recommend you do so and solo if possible. You shouldn’t have any worries about going alone or about not knowing a word of that language before going there.

best way to learn a new language

Carmen with new friends in Germany

Before the financial crisis, the Spanish Government used to give summer scholarships to university students consisting of around 1,200 Euros each to be spent in language courses abroad. We could chose among English, French and German. I was already fluent in the first two, hence I chose German as I wanted to challenge and develop myself. I spent three months during three summers in Germany. First time in Berlin (2008), then Hamburg and Passau (2009) and finally, Munich (2011), making it nine months in total. When I first landed in Berlin I didn’t know a word of German but I managed to pick it up in a month or so!

Best way to learn a new Language

(Munich & Beer) Image via Flickr CC by Dieter Kasimir.

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I was attending private German lessons three hours every morning from Monday to Friday and I can guarantee that in the three occasions I learned more German than if I had taken regular classes in Spain for two years. On my last German course in Munich, in 2011, I even reached Level B2! It would take several years to reach this level if you study in your home country. This is why I think the best way to learn a language is by going abroad. And don’t assume that you’re only learning in class. Being surrounded by natives, is truly the fastest way to learn a language!

Best way to learn a new Language - When Carmen from 'Carmen Everywhere' decided to go to Germany to learn German, she quickly realised that there are certain ways that help you learn a language so much quicker. Click on the Pin to learn more.

Image via Flickr CC from Groman123

To make the most of your experience you would connect with locals in that country with whom to practice your new language skills. So, in essence, the learning process takes place 24 hours! I still remember the fun times I had in Germany with people I met both at the course and outside of it. It couldn’t have been more amazing! I always had some activity planned on my free time which involved meeting a bunch of new friends and I constantly improved my German skills.

best way to learn a new language

Carmen with friends at a ‘Biergarten’

« Biergarten » afternoons, cooking days in class, eating out and just hanging out, are some examples of the activities I undertook with my newly found friends. If you’re thinking of doing the same, you should start by getting rid of your fear. I am aware that many people, when they go on a language course abroad do tend to stick to their own group and not learn a word of the local language. I recommend keeping an open mind and develop a curiosity to meeting people of different backgrounds as it is not only the best way to learn a language but also encourages your own personal development tremendously!

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Learning a foreign language opens up the world to you, brings new opportunities, helps you making new friends and immerses you into a new culture. Needless to say, it is also a fantastic way to boost your CV and makes you more employable in future.

If you don’t want to do any of this – then it’s probably best not to learn a new language.

best way to learn a new language

(Germany) Image via Flickr CC from Thomas Depenbusch

 

heart-blueWhat about you? Have you gone abroad to learn a new language? How has it helped your personal development? I would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.

About CarmenHeart Icon

Carmen is the Spanish girl behind Carmen Everywhere. She blogs about solo travel, travel tips, living abroad, food & culture and specializes in local experiences (she loves street food!). Her writing style is unique in that she shares her own perspective and experiences in a very honest tone. If you want any advice from her on how to organize a trip abroad to learn a new language, get in touch with her!

You can follow Carmen on Facebook  and Twitter.

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Best way to learn a new Language - When Carmen from 'Carmen Everywhere' decided to go to Germany to learn German, she quickly realised that there are certain ways that help you learn a language so much quicker. Click on the Pin to learn more.

Image via Flickr CC from Groman123

Best way to learn a new Language - When Carmen from 'Carmen Everywhere' decided to go to Germany to learn German, she quickly realised that there are certain ways that help you learn a language so much quicker. Click on the Pin to learn more.

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21 Comments

  • mark

    19.03.2016 at 04:58 Reply

    The government gave you money to travel i think that’s amazing. What pity they stopped this great initiative all because a few greedy American banks cause a financial crisis. I think traveling challenges us all in different ways whether it be solo, couple, friends or family.What an experience living in Germany must have been its my favourite country in Europe

  • Monika

    19.03.2016 at 05:26 Reply

    I agree that learning a language abroad is a wonderful way to learn and experience new things! I’ve taken Spanish courses in Latin America four times and I cannot recommend it enough! Especially with a homestay – then learning becomes fun!

    We should however remember that just by being in a foreign country you won’t learn a language – you need to put some effort into it to truly benefit.
    Monika recently posted…Glossary of Modern TourismMy Profile

  • Heather Cole

    19.03.2016 at 05:45 Reply

    Couldn’t agree more, immersion is the best and quickest way to learn, and so much more enjoyable than a couple of hours a week in a classroom at home. I did the same learning Spanish and it’s so much easier when it’s in real context. Next challenge is Portuguese, wish me luck!

    • Serendipity Tess

      19.03.2016 at 15:52 Reply

      Hey Heather, I am in the process of learning Portuguese by using Italki! I’m travelling to Portugal in a few weeks and cannot wait to put it into practise 😀

  • Michelle

    19.03.2016 at 08:07 Reply

    Using the language is so important. I figured that just spending a couple months in Mexico and Central America would be sufficient to learn Spanish, and while I can understand a lot more than a could, I’m still at the same level when it comes to speaking (which is not much).

    • Serendipity Tess

      19.03.2016 at 15:52 Reply

      Yeah – i spent three months in Portugal and thought I would pick it up really quickly – you definitely need language classes alongside the social aspects of language learning.

  • Lillie

    19.03.2016 at 08:15 Reply

    I completely and utterly agree with you that the most effective way to learn a language is intensive language lessons in a country where the language is spoken. I took French in the U.S. for 12 years and never got close to fluent, but after 3 months of intensive Spanish in Mexico, I went from level 0 to the highest level of Spanish classes when I returned to my U.S. university. Soooo efficient — and so fun, too!
    Lillie recently posted…Lovely Vineyards of the Finger Lakes, New YorkMy Profile

  • Tonya

    19.03.2016 at 08:40 Reply

    I certainly agree, going to a country is the best way to pick it up. I would also recommend conversation clubs, where two people can learn from each other’s native language.

    • Serendipity Tess

      19.03.2016 at 15:53 Reply

      Yeah – something like Italki works really well for that purpose! 🙂

  • Hugo

    19.03.2016 at 11:19 Reply

    Learning the language in an environment where it’s widely spoken is definitely the best way to do it. Even if you don’t move abroad for a longer period of time to learn a language, it’s still the best way to be exposed to it and to pick it up faster.

    For those looking for a challenge, learning a new language is one of the best things one can do to improve and gain new skills!
    Hugo recently posted…Trinidad: a burst of colours under the rainMy Profile

  • Meg Jerrrd

    19.03.2016 at 17:21 Reply

    I totally agree with you, if I’m learning a new language I think diving in the deep end and immersing yourself in a new country is the best thing to do too. You’re almost forced to learn it if you want to get by, and don’t have any excuses or distractions as you do when trying to learn in a classroom. So this really is the best way!

    Sadly I usually get to another country and then the locals want to try and learn their English by speaking my language to me haha
    Meg Jerrrd recently posted…The Time I Ate Thai Food in the ArcticMy Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      22.03.2016 at 05:30 Reply

      I made similar experiences when trying to practise a language abroad haha!

  • Natalie Deduck

    19.03.2016 at 23:28 Reply

    For sure, travelling is the best way to learn a new language! As you said it´s a 24 hour challenge, where our brain needs to cope with a different language during daily life activities. I have studied English for 6 years, when I was a teenager in Brazil, but I only got it right when I moved to Ireland and lived there for 2 years. The best compliment I could receive was that my Brazilian accent was changing, and my English was becoming very irish… hahaha
    Happy travels and keep learning new things!
    Nat
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…Thai Islands: 11 Reasons to Travel to Paradise at Least Once in a LifetimeMy Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      21.03.2016 at 09:21 Reply

      Oh I love the Irish accent 🙂 You must have the sexiest accent ever! Brazilian-Irish – how awesome 🙂 It’s crazy how our brains soak up accents though…I first practised English in Namibia Southern Africa and I had a South African accent for a long time. I still have a bit of a an accent but it is slowly disappearing after living in London for so many years!

      Happy Travels to you too!

  • Mar Pages

    21.03.2016 at 00:33 Reply

    I completely agree, I sometimes wish I could stay in a country just to learn the language! The constant exposure makes all the difference, you have no choice but to actively listen and practice with every interaction. It has to be the best tip for language learning out there!

    • Serendipity Tess

      21.03.2016 at 09:11 Reply

      Hey Mar, yeah – i also think it’s the best way – it’s important to lose this fear of speaking to locals too! As it can be quite daunting at first but locals actually really like it when you attempt to speak their language 🙂

  • Curious Claire

    22.03.2016 at 04:10 Reply

    I’ve been trying to learn a language for so long but I always end up failing. When you learn at home it’s far too easy to get distracted and give up. Maybe a nice tour around France is what I need. Thanks for the motivation 🙂
    Curious Claire recently posted…What I’ve Learned from 1 Year of BloggingMy Profile

    • Serendipity Tess

      22.03.2016 at 14:29 Reply

      Good Luck with your plans Claire and keep us posted 🙂 France is ALWAYS an excellent idea! 🙂

  • Cristen Sullivan

    30.03.2016 at 08:56 Reply

    Love this. I studied french for four years (my minor) in University and NOTHING was better than moving to France to learn the language.

  • Helen Wilson

    29.06.2016 at 06:17 Reply

    Hey!!

    It a nice share…

    Well, after reading this I must say that students may also learn a new language through conventional course, although courses that meet more frequently are much more effective.

    A lot of foreign language teachers and tutors agree that immersion is a great way to learn a new language. Immersion courses in the country that the language is spoken are extremely valued, because students have to use the language beyond the class as well as in it.

    Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas..
    Keep doing good work..
    God Bless U!!

    • Serendipity Tess

      02.07.2016 at 23:46 Reply

      Hello Helen, thank you so much for your lovely comment! I’m actually in South America at the moment practising the Spanish I learnt over a two-week intensive Spanish course in Costa Rica — I’ve learnt so much – it’s unbelievable 🙂

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