So you’re about to go on exchange? or you have already arrived in the host country, and you want to know what you should do to accelerate the learning of the language spoken in that country. In this regard, the first thing you should know is that you have already made the two most important decisions when it comes to learning a language: 1. Start your training Go on an exchange program to a country where the language is spoken.
In this article we will give you additional tips that will help you as an exchange student to reinforce such learning:
1. Be responsible with your classes
We understand that travel is a pleasurable experience and that you want to take advantage of your exchange program to learn as much as possible about your stay in your host country. That’s fine and can be positive from many points of view, but you should not forget that what led you to go on exchange in the first place was studying at a foreign educational institution. So, no matter how many social relationships you have and how much they want to keep you on the town, the most important thing is that you focus on your studies, on being an excellent student, which you will achieve by paying absolute attention to your classes and fulfilling your assignments, always giving the best of yourself.
The study program you undertook may be designed for learning the language in question, but even if it covers any other area of knowledge, the fact that it is taught in that language forces you to use it to clarify words you don’t know, sharpen your ear to understand the lectures, and communicate with other students and teachers. So doing all this with a good attitude and willingness to learn will be fundamental to accelerate your learning.
2. Avoid speaking in your mother tongue
If you go as an exchange student to another country with the objective of learning another language, but once there you speak in your mother tongue most of the time, you will not be able to get the most out of this experience. For this reason, try to interact mostly with people who do not speak your native language, so you will be forced to speak in the language of the host country. Your host family can be a great help in that regard: although you may occasionally speak in your language as part of a cultural exchange, most of the time you will have to communicate with them using theirs.
3. Expose yourself
You learn to swim in the water. The books, the classes, the theoretical part in general are fine, but you will be able to verify that you are making progress in the new language when you actually communicate through it. To do so, you must “loosen your tongue”, which means speaking in that language to solve day-to-day situations. In exchange programs it sometimes happens that there are students who have a better command of the language spoken in the host country than others, so the former lend themselves as spokespersons for the latter for routine activities such as ordering a cab, ordering food, etc. The truth is that they are not doing them any favors, since, as embarrassing as it may be for some of them to speak in the new language, they will have to do it anyway to really learn it.
If you are lame you should know that at worst someone will correct you or laugh, but that’s not the end of the world, right? In fact, you can take it as an excuse to get depressed or as a reason to keep learning and practicing to speak that new language better and better.
4. Art is your ally
If you like movies, guess what? In the host country you will probably be able to enjoy movies that are not dubbed or subtitled in your language. This may be uncomfortable at first, but just as when we are in the dark our other senses are sharpened, having to understand a movie in another language will reinforce the learning of that language. You may miss some parts of the movie by doing this, but you will surely learn something after watching it. Even if they are bad words!
The same is true for music. With this artistic expression you will have more time to 1. translate the words you do not know, 2. pay close attention to the way they are pronounced, as well as 3. imitate their pronunciation. Ultimately those are the three things that will make you learn any language. Finally, you can read books, newspapers and magazines in the language of the host country, which will also help you improve your writing skills in that language.
As a final recommendation, it is very important to emphasize the need to clarify any words that are not understood and to practice their pronunciation. This is done by using a dictionary to translate, another one in your language to clarify words, and also, if necessary, by looking up images or videos on Google that illustrate the word, as well as its etymology. That way you will understand it thoroughly and you will hardly forget this new vocabulary. If you are interested in becoming an exchange student, we can help you.