Being overseas and taking the step towards learning a language can be a wholesome experience. No matter where you are traveling, talking the local language is a fantastic way to meet new people and locals alike.
It does need to be a conscious effort on your part. Don’t hope that you can hit the pub twice a week, order beers and pick up all language skills you could ever need. You will have to study and study hard.
I also recommend a highly intensive language course. They’re not necessarily cheap, and they can be pretty full-on (your head will hurt for the first couple of weeks) – but they are a fantastic way to learn a language fast. A good rule of thumb is to hope to be having basic conversations within 2 months of intensive study.
When choosing one of these courses, think about picking a smaller city or town to do it in. The large cities that cater to these language courses will generally be full of other English students – this is perfect for those that love the night life of course – but not so great for learning that language.
If it is a popular course and city, then you will want to book ahead and secure your place if you’re organizing a trip.
The advantages to knowing another language are numerous – I’ve always been jealous of people that can speak 4 + languages, and I would always give excuses like, “Oh, well they must be naturally gifted at learning languages”. Sure, they could be. But absolutely nothing trumps hard study. It’s a fact. Anyone can learn another language, if you study and have persistence.
Moving to a country that speaks the language you want to learn is really the best bet. Immersion is king. You will learn more doing that then you will in years of language at school – and languages at school can be a little bit boring, let’s be honest!
So whether it is Spanish, French, German or Dutch – have fun with it and get out there.