Is the only thing stopping you from learning how to speak the language of your host country a lack of self-belief? Here’s a pep talk for anyone who thinks they are too long in the tooth.
For starters, if you have kids, who are also learning the language of your host country, don’t compare your progress to theirs. Your stodgy grey matter is no match for their ‘sponge-like brain’! But why not try to learn what they are learning anyway? One expat partner in Germany recently told us he supplements his own language studies by doing his kids’ language exercises (not for them, but alongside them). Meanwhile, another expat partner, who has no kids, reads comics and watches cartoons in the language of his host country, a fun approach that helps to keep his attention.
Put the work in
If you learned a second language in school, you might think that learning a new (third or fourth) language feels much harder. But remember in school you didn’t have an option to quit. You had to sit in class, do the homework and study for tests. In short, you put the work in. As an adult learner, you will need to commit. Is one hour a day possible? Put the hours in and you will improve.
Overcome the fear
When you’re starting to learn a new language, you might struggle with basic pronunciation and quickly lose confidence. So make sure you always find the right places to practise what you have learned. Follow your interests and play sports or take up a creative hobby with locals, preferably ones who don’t speak English. The more fun you have, the faster you’ll improve.
Keep immersing yourself in the language of your host country as much as you can. Turn on the radio or watch TV shows and absorb the sound of the language. Eat in truly local restaurants and explore the national cuisine of your host country. Whenever you’re free, use a language learning app like Duolingo to keep the momentum going.
Think of the perks
And if you need a little extra motivation, remember that learning a new language a little later in life helps us to ‘exercise the brain’, helping us to keep Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay. For more encouragement, recommendations and advice, just check out the linked articles below.
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.