Friday, May 1, 2009

The Language Dilemma

One issue that can potentially stop people from carrying out their dream of living abroad is fear of the language barrier. While it is a justified concern, it certainly should not impede you from having the life you've always wanted. Many people who live abroad today did not speak the local language when they first arrived to the country of their choice including yours truly. You can still get things done and you'll pick up some of the language gradually.

I've also met people who have lived in a given country for many years and still can't speak the local language. While its possible to get by doing this, I really recommend making an effort and embracing the local language.

There are several ways to approach this. Its possible to learn the language without taking any language lessons. This approach can work if you are on your own and are somewhat extroverted. You really have to work hard at speaking as often as you can with the locals. If you are traveling as a couple, it will be more difficult because you'll always be speaking to each other in English.

This brings us to the opposite side of the spectrum. You could take long term language lessons. Intensive language training will get you real results. However, I should say that even lessons will only get you to a certain point. Real fluency means communicating with real people, or rather native speakers, about real topics which can only happen in real situations, not in the classroom.

I have lived in quite a few different countries and have tried many different approaches and have had varying levels of success. The best advice I can give is to start with a minimum of three months of language lessons. From there, take a break from the lessons and try to start meeting people and more importantly just speaking. If you find yourself hitting a wall go back for another month of lessons.

As language lessons can get expensive, I would even say try one month of lessons then a one month break and then add another month of lessons. Pay attention to your progress...some people do better outside of class then inside.

Whatever your approach, don't let language be the obstacle to the life you really want. Come and Join Us!

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