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How to learn a language when moving to a new country

Read on to discover why it’s important to learn a new language, how to learn a language when you move abroad, and how you can find financial advice in your native tongue.

Why is it important to learn a new language?

While it’s true that you can get by in many countries without learning a new language, putting the work in shows respect, and is always appreciated by locals. Even in places where learning the language isn’t much of a necessity, such as in Spain, where the British expat community is so large that it’s perfectly easy to fit in without ever knowing a word of Spanish, making the effort can still be a worthwhile venture.

Learning a language opens up opportunities

For one thing, learning a new language can open up new opportunities – if you’ve moved for work, competent language skills will be great for furthering your career. Recently, we looked at how speaking a bit of Dutch is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition into the workplace in the Netherlands (aside from receiving guidance from our experienced advisers based in the Netherlands, of course).

Expand your social circles by learning a new language

Possessing good language skills can help expand your social circles, and is generally a fantastic way to occupy your time. Learning a language allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and fend off any feelings of isolation – something that commonly causes expat stress.

And while it’s easy to talk about the benefits of learning a new language, actually doing it is another story entirely. It might feel like an insurmountable challenge, but there are plenty of ways you can simplify the process and have fun at the same time. And the sooner you start, the better.

Tips for learning a new language

Picking up foreign vocabulary and sentence structures can be challenging if you’re approaching the task with little direction. However, if you have an understanding of how to learn a language, including the best techniques to test out, you’re likely to have greater success. We’ve outlined our top tips for learning a new language.

Be properly equipped

When you start to learn a new language after moving abroad, a notebook and a pocket dictionary will become your best friend. You will continuously be picking up new things from the world around you, so when someone speaks a phrase that you’ve never heard before, it’s good to have somewhere to write it down, so you can investigate in your own time.

Learning a new language is about making a habit of looking up unknown words and phrases every time you hear or see them, which will slowly expand your vocabulary.

Be realistic with your time

Learning a new language is usually a gradual, time-consuming process. Sometimes, students spend years on courses to learn a language fluently. While it’s understandable that you’ll have other time commitments, you may need to give more than an hour or two a week if you want to progress quickly.

Ideally, you should try to spend some time studying every day. However, trying to take on too much information in one session can also be counter-productive, and it could become tricky to memorise all you’ve learnt. Bite-size might be the right size for you, so do what feels comfortable.

Absorb media

Television, films, the radio – these are all great resources for immersing yourself in the local culture and making learning a language that little bit easier, and you’ll eventually find yourself understanding more and more. For films, try watching with subtitles and then switching the subtitles off to see how much you recognise.

The best language learning apps

When trying to learn a new language, you may find it easier to use mobile apps that track your progress and offer a smart element to education. With free and paid variants to pick from, some of the best language learning apps include:

  • Duolingo
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Busuu
  • Babbel

Taking you through the basics of how to learn a language, as well as offering spelling, vocabulary, and grammar practice, learning apps can be extremely productive.

Join a course

You may find that you get along fine learning a language by yourself with your own resources, such as self-help books and online language sessions, but sometimes getting help from a professional tutor is an effective option. Joining a class can be a good idea if you lose focus easily when attempting to learn a language by yourself and it could also be a great way of meeting people who are in a similar situation to you.

You can also choose a course that suits your particular skill level. So if you’re a complete novice, a beginner’s class will be a great way of learning the basics, such as grammar and pronunciation, in a structured manner.

Practice in real-world situations

A classroom is great for confidence building, of course, but practicing in real life conversational experiences is essential if you really want to learn a language the real way.

After all, the whole reason for learning a language is so you can interact with the locals in everyday situations. If you have a friend in your new country who can speak English as well as the native tongue, they can be a good starting point. Let them know you’re in the process of trying to learn a language and ask if they can spare some time to have some practice conversations with you.

Don’t be put off by mistakes

When attempting to learn a new language, it’s understandable that you may have some anxiety over looking and sounding foolish when attempting to hold a conversation, but making mistakes is a likely –in fact, necessary – part of the process.

Be realistic. If you ever find yourself getting frustrated while learning a language, remember that it’s always going to be a while before you get the hang of it, and that’s OK. Be patient and forgiving with yourself, and, just with any other large undertaking, don’t let any small slip-ups put you off from achieving your goal.

Even if languages are not your strong point, we’re sure that using these tips could help you vastly improve your skills.

Happy learning, and good luck/bonne chance/veel succes/buena suerta/viel glück!

Financial advice in a language you understand

Although we encourage making the effort to learn a language when moving abroad, it’s not something you have to worry about if you need expert and technical financial advice.

Blacktower can help you if you are looking for quality expat financial services in various locations across Europe and further afield. We have expat financial advisers in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, and many other popular expat locations to help you with all your wealth management needs.

Contact one of Blacktower’s expat financial advisers today for bespoke advice on your savings in a language you’ll understand.

Disclaimer: This communication is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice, investment recommendations or investment research. You should seek advice form a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity.

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