Communicating in a foreign country can be a daunting and difficult task, especially when you don't have any prior knowledge. Thankfully, that barrier is not unreachable, and the following eight pieces of advice will hopefully help you overcome it successfully.
- Take Up a Language Course Before Your Studies
While it's impossible to have a perfect grasp on a language without years of practice, a simple language course can at least help you learn some basics necessary for simple communication. There are plenty of free resources online, including websites and apps such as Duolingo that offer interactive courses. Once you're at an Intermediate level, you'll be able to communicate with native speakers without using a translator all the time.
- Buy a Phrasebook
Even though books have mostly been replaced by their digital counterparts, getting a physical copy of a phrasebook can be quite useful in your day-to-day life abroad. There are small pocket-sized editions that have some of the most crucial phrases that you might need. Read through them at least once each day and try to remember them - since they often don't include grammar rules, some phrases might not make sense so you'll have to memorize those.
- Download an Offline Dictionary
At times, a phrasebook won't be enough. If you get into more comprehensive discussions, you'll have to look up the translations of certain words. Fortunately, digital dictionaries are a lot easier to search through since most of them come with a search function.
Don't stress yourself with memorizing some more complex words - as you continue to speak and use them in everyday conversations, you'll learn them automatically. Another major advantage of an offline dictionary is that it's all on your phone, and you have to remember to bring it along with you every day.
- Make Friends with Native Speakers
University courses are usually both held and attended by native speakers. They're one of the best places to find some friends who can help you in learning the language. However, before engaging with them, you might want to learn something more about who they are. This is where Spokeo can be useful.
Spokeo is an information service about people,including who they are, where they come from, whether they have any criminal records, etc. Spokeo does this by cross-referencing multiple different databases that contain billions of different records, so you won't have any trouble finding what you're looking for. All you have to do is either run a phone number search or an email lookup tool and the detailed report will be presented to you immediately. From their social media profiles, you'll be able to learn about their interests, which will help you make friends a lot more easily.
- Change the Language on Your Devices
Most people spend the majority of their day on either their computers, phones, or tablets. This makes for an ideal opportunity to start learning that language passively by simply modifying your device's options.
Of course, this isn't fully "passive", as you'll still have to mentally grip onto these adjustments. Also, since you likely know what most of the options on your phone do, you'll be able to easily connect them to the displayed word.
- Avoid Using Your Native Language
When you want to say something in your native tongue, try thinking about how you would structure that same sentence in the language which you're trying to learn. Are you familiar with all the necessary words that are contained within it? If not, look them up on your offline dictionary. Once you're able to form a sentence, say it out loud a couple of times to practice your speech. This is a great method of learning that's both fun and doesn't require a lot of effort.
- Take Up a Hobby In the Foreign Country
Hobbies are a great way of meeting and communicating with new people. As soon as you get set up abroad, ask around for any gyms, fitness centres, dance or art studios - whatever you're most interested in. Since these are the places where people gather and try to achieve the same goals, you'll be able to build a relationship with them all while learning the basics of the language. It might seem a little bit overwhelming in the beginning, but you'll get used to it over time.
- Take Advantage of Books, Movies, Music
Any form of media in your target language is going to be largely effective in helping you notice and understand certain aspects of its grammar rules. Movies, in particular, have proven to be most effective, largely due to the combination of both speech and the subtitles. However, if you can understand books to some extent, they're also very efficient at improving your comprehension.
Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies and business development. He also prefers travelling, exploring the world and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.
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