[Skip to Content]

How To Learn A Language Abroad

Wednesday 1st August 2012

So you’ve tried all the tapes and course books, thrown away the Learn Spanish in Ten Minutes video, and decided that you’re going to pack your bags and try your luck learning a language with the locals. But if the idea of sitting in the classroom fills you with dread, (even if it is somewhere exotic), then have a think about some of the other options.

Here we look at some of the ways that you can learn a language abroad including:

Language Schools

The most obvious way to learn a language abroad is to go to enrol at a language school in a country that speaks the lingo! You can choose from two weeks to a year- long language course – it’s up to you. You’ll need to consider the type of course, school, teaching methodology, accommodation options AND (yes, there’s more) any cultural activities you can get involved in outside the classroom. Another option is to go to the country as an English teacher (see our teach English in Europe or language schools in the USA for more information), and get a job at a locally–run school. The chances are that you’ll get a chance to speak the local language to some of the staff (when you’re not teaching English!), and you might even get free language lessons thrown in as part of your contract.

Language Holidays

This sounds like even more fun – you get to travel and learn a language! Some companies offer packages that combine studying a language with an adventure tour or trek. How? Well, your guide will only communicate in the local language, so it’s a case of learn the language or you’ll be abandoned and left in the middle of nowhere with only sign language to help you. No, not really. 

Live And Study In The Home Of Your Own Private Teacher

If you want one-on-one tuition then have you considered studying and living in the home of your own personal teacher? It’s a much more intense experience but could be ideal if you want to develop your skills in a shorter amount of time, and you’re happy having language lessons while you eat your toast in the morning.

Language Camps For Teenagers

Some companies offer summer language courses if you’re 17 or under. You can usually stay in a residential summer camp with other teenagers or with a local host family. Living with somebody else’s family sounds a bit daunting but you’ll soon settle in, and it’s a great chance to take a big leap forward with the language you’re learning.

Business Language Courses

If you are already working and you want to improve your language skills to use in a business environment, you’ll find courses just for this. They tend to focus on business vocabulary and examples of business communications; the practical language you need to impress your foreign clients. You could find yourself role-playing interviews and negotiations, as well as getting invaluable first-hand information on business practice and business etiquette in the country you’re learning in.

But remember, learning a language doesn’t just have to be a classroom experience, and you can sometimes learn much more of a language living, eating, drinking and socialising with a family for two weeks than sitting in a classroom for a year. As a general rule you learn best when you’re enjoying yourself and you learn a language best when you really need to and when you really want to. Whether that’s doing work experience somewhere you really like, helping out on a voluntary project overseas that you really believe in, or just meeting people in a bar who don’t speak English but who you really want to talk to, the best way to learn a language is to get out there and use it to enjoy yourself!