We said frequently that it is necessary to go abroad to improve your language. This is definitely true. Every year thousands and thousands of people leave the comforts of their home to improve a language in a foreign country. It is a means to improve your language skills and achieve fluency because you will be fully immersed in the domestic culture. But when? At which age? Should the parents decide for their children? Should we wait until after our studies? We will try to give further answers to these questions.
While it seems easy on the surface, the choice to going abroad needs a strength of character, and courage to stand the separation with your native country.
During your childhood
You have the best capacity to learn
According to Pascal Roulois, researcher and university teacher, children under 7 years of age have the best capacity to learn languages. Indeed, they don’t need structure, their learning will happen by an unconscious process. «They learn on contact with their environment». For him, it’s even useless to give them language classes. It makes sense from 7 years old where the child needs structured lessons. Furthermore, for Catherine Ford, head teacher of Moreton First Prep School, “the younger the learner, the better they are at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation”.
You can be disgusted by moving abroad
However, sending your child abroad during this time is not recommended except if you have family there or if the child can feel good. Indeed, homesickness is the most frequent problem and at this age it could put them off going abroad. So, talking with the child is very important because their approval is essential.
Edinburgh University researchers point out that “millions of people across the world acquire their second language later in life: in school, university, or work, or through migration or marriage.”
After high school or during studies
Internships, placement year, Erasmus program, grants, scholarships and others are very useful to go abroad when you are a student. Indeed, the whole process is easier because nowadays, going abroad is a very common and recommended decision.
To growing up
Be sure that starting a new experience abroad will be rewarding. The benefits are numerous, it’s a means of being mature, responsible, learning to take care of yourself, being open minded, acquiring experience of course, and becoming more valuable in the professional life.
To be framed
Thanks to the several programs that exist today, students have the possibility to move while being accompanied with the educational environment. It’s a very good way to discover the world, new people, new cultures and in the same time continue to validate your studies.
Not an easy way
It can also have its problem just like homesickness, incompatibilities with the foreign culture, differences between reality and what you expected. That is why sometimes people go home earlier than expected. Furthermore, living abroad is not enough to learn a new language unlike many people think, it’s not a magic formula. It needs important efforts from your part even when immersed in the foreign country.
After your studies
A capital gain for your career
One of the best things about working in an international environment is that it brings you into contact with people from all over the world, meaning that you can create a global network of contacts. That is a very important point especially at the time to integrate the labour market.
Your life can be changed
Living abroad can help you discover yourself and improve your self-confidence, giving you the opportunity to become a “changed person”. Especially regarding your outlook on the life and your feelings.
To discover yourself
Starting your career by an experience abroad represents an important ordeal. Indeed, the new graduate hasn’t a lot of experience to fight against difficulties which we can find in the labour market especially abroad in a new context.
At this age, going abroad goes hand in hand with looking for a new direction, new challenges. It could be a reconstruction after a romantic break up or a simple professional rupture. In all cases, you have all the skills to start your experience abroad.
Experience and maturity are your best friends
After working in your own country, experience accumulated could be an important asset for you. Also, you are not worried by one of the main problem which students have, the problem of money. Indeed, there is no doubt that it takes money to study abroad and in this field, you can be self-sufficient.
If you still hesitate, be sure that practicing a foreign language is good for your health especially for your brain. Indeed, learning a foreign language can increase the size of your brain, that is what Swedish scientists have discovered. Among its benefits, speaking more than one language fluently permits to have a better memory, to be more cognitively creative and mentally flexible. It’s a veritable means to stay cognitively healthy.
It is sure that there isn’t a perfect age to go abroad for the first time. The most important thing is to be motivated, to be full of ambition to lead your personal improvement. You will certainly be confronted with several difficulties and that’s why you have to be sure to be able to overstep them. To succeed, the main goal is to find a perfect match between the optimal learning context and fulfilment conditions.
To conclude, our advice is to start learning a foreign language as soon as possible, ideally during the childhood, under 7 years old is better when the process is unconscious. Concerning a potential departure abroad, the best way is to enjoy program dedicated to this end during your studies. However, even it is more difficult to learn another language after, don’t hesitate. It’s definitely a question of motivation, perseverance and self-confidence…
By William Troubat
Pascal Roulois, Apprendre une langue, oui, mais à quel âge ? 15/12/2015
Workwide.fr. Quel est le meilleur moment dans une vie pour partir travailler à l’étranger ?
5minuteenglish.com. Should I study abroad ?
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