The best way to improve your foreign language competences is obviously to move abroad for some time. However, being abroad does not improve de facto your language skills. While I was in Ireland, I met a Croatian guy who was living there for two and a half years, but whose English was pretty bad. Why? He was spending most of his working time and free-time with Croatian people. This guy was thinking that the fact of staying in Ireland alone will help him to improve his English. How wrong he was. That is why I wanted to write this blog post, to give you 5 tips which will really help you to improve your foreign language learning abroad.
- Do not only communicate with natives from your own country! Even if you can feel more confident to speak in your mother tongue with other natives, it won’t help you to improve your skills in the language. So, try to meet foreign people, and spend time with them as much as you can.
- Go out as much as you can. To go out is obviously the best way to improve your speaking skills, because you can speak spontaneously about any subject without the necessary vocabulary. This is one of the most important skills, and it is very difficult to develop it in your home country because you have the possibility to go back to your mother tongue if you don’t know a word or an expression. You don’t have such a possibility abroad (which is a good thing).
- Find a group of people from different nationalities in the town you are living. It is very easy today to find these kinds of groups on social media, like Facebook for example. It is also a way to create and develop a network of people who may go out with you. Do not hesitate to use Messenger and other chats to keep in touch, share the events you are interested in and organise your evenings!
- Keep doing what you usually do. The fact of being abroad is not an excuse to stop doing the good things you did in your home country; keep watching films in original version if you were doing so, keep reading books in the foreign language if you were already doing it, etc.
- Use this opportunity to find a local language class. Being surrounded by the language in your everyday life with help you progress much faster and will make the learning feel more fun. This will also ensure that you have something to concretely track your progress. You can also arrange do a tandem with a native speaker, teach them your mother tongue and they will teach you theirs.
What you must understand is that if you are abroad, burying yourself in a grammar book is not the most pertinent thing; it can discourage you and lead you to give up altogether. On the contrary, put the emphasis on interaction and dialogue in an informal and even funny setting, it is easy to learn regularly in this way.