>> 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. <<
What is the best way to learn a new Language?
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
« 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!
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.
What 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.
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!
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