In today’s interconnected world, having proficiency in a foreign language will significantly give you an edge no matter what industry you are in. It is somewhat deemed as a necessary skill in order to succeed, function better, and prepare for the new world of work where you are forced to work alongside international teams. In addition, current job requirements are massively changing to the point that we are seeing tons of newly opened positions to be filled by bilinguals or polyglots confident in conversing with some of the top business languages.
And as you are reading this, you are probably wondering how exactly you can develop mastery in a totally new language in a short span of time?
One of the surefire ways by which you can acquire a foreign language is by getting around places far from your home. It may sound overwhelming to visit a country with locals that speak a different language, but the pressure it puts you on will give you the boost to learn as much as you can. While it is true that you may communicate without using any words at all, your travel abroad will not be as fulfilling as it should be, especially if your main goal is to truly immerse yourself in the target language. As a rule of thumb, it is always recommended that you at least try to strike a conversation with the locals and resist the temptation to use your native language. To walk you through how to make the most out of your travel, check out the tips below.
Prepare yourself for the experience
Failing to prepare will definitely put you in a difficult position in terms of getting around the country. Instead of just focusing on memorizing the usual greetings and words for showing gratitude, you must consider learning beyond those categories. You do not have to memorize everything all at once as you can simply pick up authentic expressions as you observe the locals on their choice of words, phrases, and slang. Whatever new term you hear, try to take a mental note and figure out the context so that you can use the phrase too in the future.
At least a few weeks before your trip, you must master the basics including emergency, traveling, and ordering phrases. After that, you can purchase a handy book to help you out, use Google Translate from time to time, listen to artists that speak the language, and even download free mobile language learning applications that will work offline.
Be a backpacker and travel alone
Another vital approach that you must consider is to travel alone. While it may indeed sound a bit too much, a solo trip will push you to your limits and out of your comfort zone. It will empower you to try to initiate conversations with the locals without using your native language. This can be truly powerful, especially if you are visiting countries that do not speak your tongue on a daily basis. If this is your first time, we highly recommend that you choose Asian countries as they have their own tricky set of languages and a vast population of English speakers in case you find it really hard to express yourself. You can start by looking into some of the easiest Asian languages to learn like Malay, Filipino, and Thai language.
Find opportunities to speak the target language
Instead of just waiting for a native speaker to talk to you, try to approach them instead and take up all the opportunities to try to speak in their language. To do this effectively, you can chase after social events or do a pub crawl (if you like drinking) where the chances of bumping into a local will be extremely high. Also, try to stay out of places where foreigners usually stay as you might be disappointed that the locals will try to speak to you in English instead.
Also, you might consider checking in to a hostel or go Couchsurfing instead of booking into a foreigner-friendly hotel. By consciously choosing to expose yourself to the locals, you’ll get to have more practice and even get the chance to teach them your language too!
Master the art of imitations
Mimicking a language is essential in order for you to acquire an accent and improve your pronunciation. As we all know, each language is unique, and it has varying patterns and sounds that might be totally different from your native language. Just like in Vietnamese, a wrong tone may change the meaning of an expression which is why you have to observe the locals and muster up the courage to practice as much as you can.
One of the top ways by which you can do this is by listening and then record yourself while speaking the same sentence. Your goal here is simply to sound as close as possible to the voice and pronunciation you are imitating.