How can I keep my language(s) up to date while travelling to destinations other than the target language’s country?
As a travel lover I am always dreaming about visiting new places. I am always planning about packing up my summery clothes and leaving for a tropical destination. Or alternatively I might want to choose to go skiing in some all year long, snowy land (with my winter clothes of course).
However, as a language lover I also dream about making sure the languages I’m accustomed to are always at their best. Theoretically, that is possible, but I am afraid it is not practical at all.
It is, in fact almost impossible to practice 5 or more languages on a daily basis, so if on the one hand there are thousands of ways of retaining your language skills, on the other hand the most effective way is to travel. But being able to constantly travel seems to be the hardest one to put in practice.
I better explain myself.
In order to maintain a ‘to do attitude’ toward the learning process, there is a need of constantly repeating a high level standard of sets routines such as writing, listening, reading, watching and talking. However, one of the best way of keeping your language(s) fresh at all times is more a practice of cultural familiarity.
Indeed the most essential part is where you travel to the target language country and train your skills with native speakers. As mentioned before, that is not always practical. We might not have the funds we need, or the time or even the desire.
Hence, how can I possibly keep visiting the same country (in order to improve a language) when I want to travel the world? How can I speak with native speakers if I live in a place where the language I am studying is not spoken at all? How can I practice the language outside the comfort of my house?
Let me give you a practical example.
I have been studying Brazilian Portuguese for about 2 years now and my level seems to stagnate from about a year or so. Why?
Simply because I have been very busy studying new languages, I haven’t travelled to Portugal or Brazil anytime this year, I have not been constant with my sets routines (or at least not how I should have been). I am now worried (for real) about my Portuguese and I want to make sure it does not get too rusty and that is when I started to freak out and decided to search online: ‘Practice Portuguese in London’, to find either a course to attend or a teacher for some private tuition.
However – here comes the power of the internet – digging a little bit more (almost maniacally) into the web I found out that none of those expensive ways of practicing Portuguese were actually necessary.
Yes, it is an online dating website. No, it is not that kind of dating you are thinking about with a grinning face.
Meetup is an online platform where people can organise ‘meetings’ during which they can share their passions with other people that have the same interests as theirs! Brilliant, isn’t it?
There are conversational groups to practice languages, but also international foodies groups (one of my favourite) and ‘women Saturday’s let’s polish our nails’ groups. The most useful group – the one that satisfies our thirst for languages – is the Polyglot meet up group. Basically, there is a wide range of interests among which you can choose and decide, then whether you want to (or not) share your passions with some new lads, maybe converse in French in a fantastic and adventurous venue, and finally go back home with a completely different point of view and a couple of new Spanish words.
The choice is yours but remember that Spanish does not improve by itself! I recommend this greatly. Go forth and try it out!