Lately I have been pondering about my short stint in Viet Nam (I know I was just there like last week lol). I keep trying to figure out what I could have done to make my time there more enjoyable (yes I know I still need to write about what happened there…soon I promise).
They only aspect of my trip that could have changed the experience was my language acquisition. Granted I did plan on learning the language while working there but didn’t expect to learn it overnight.
Now that I am in a different space and gearing up for a new adventure I wanted to share how I feel about learning your host countries language while traveling (and before).
If you are subbed to my channel on YouTube then you already know I am considering working in Japan or Dubai. Well given the recent uprising of anti-American sentiment in some countries, you know where I am NOT going now.
Ha ha actually “mummy dearest” shut down my Middle East plans as soon as I mentioned it. Anyway, since I have a few weeks before heading out to Japan(if plans don’t change and I end up somewhere more exciting!) I figured I should start studying the language NOW!
I purchased a Berlitz book from Barnes and Nobles that assured me I will speak some Japanese in 30 days (I think I am returning this book) and have been using different online resources. Apparently 2 (Katakana & Hiragana) of the 3 alphabet systems are easy to learn in a few weeks. (It’s pretty similar to learning Han geul …if you are motivated.)
Which brings me to the key word—>MOTIVATION! Without this nothing is possible…seriously!
I’ve created a study plan for myself since I have a ton of free time now AND I will force myself to listen to J-POP. Another thing I will do that is motivating to me is watch some Japanese cooking shows since I love everything that involves cooking 🙂
I will share more as I continue to find what works …or I should say …what I enjoy.
A friend that I met in Korea that is currently studying Korean and French, as you read this, offers the following advice for language study. In my opinion, she is a polyglot so I figured she would be the best person to offer anyone advice for language learning!
Her 12 tips are:
1. Study, study, study. Grammar, while boring, is extremely helpful, and it is the building blocks of any language. Don’t shy away from it!
2. Don’t be afraid to skip around. (Who says that you can’t learn complex grammar before learning colors??) Learn the things that are relevant to your life now, and come back to the names of fruits and vegetables later!
3. Listen to the news. It’ll be hard, and more than intimidating, but once you crack it, you’ll understand everything. Plus, once you know what’s going on in a country, you will feel more connected to the language and culture, which will make you more motivated to study, which will help you to learn faster, and so the cycle continues.
4. Make it fun! Read news articles, celebrity gossip magazines, children’s books, poetry, and nursery rhymes. Listen to the music and watch soap operas on YouTube.
5. Incorporate the target language into your routine. Listen to music or the news while eating breakfast, doing laundry, or driving. Inactive listening also works wonders, so why not use it as background noise while cleaning, etc.?
6. Talk to yourself! Using the target language, try to have mini conversations in your mind, and translate the conversations that you have with others in your mind as well. Encounter any unknown grammar or vocabulary? Now you know what you need to work on!
7. Don’t call it “studying.” Said word has negative connotations for most people, and if you think of it that way, you’ll likely dread doing it and be more apt to putting it off.
8. Make it a priority. Treat it like everything else that you want to accomplish, and set a timeline. Otherwise you will lose track of your progress, which will make it harder to push yourself to succeed.
9. Diversify your studying. Twenty minutes of grammar, followed by twenty minutes of listening, followed by twenty minutes of grammar will keep you alert and accelerate your learning.
10. Take small bites! A few minutes every day is better than large chunks less often, as it will improve retention. Even if you don’t have time to dig in, listen to a song!
11. Don’t break the bank! Seek out all of the free resources that you can, especially online. Internet radio is a gem! In addition to being free, listening allows you to learn grammar, idioms, slang, speech patterns, current events, and culture. Tunein.com has helped me tremendously, and there’s even an app for smart phones!
12. Play to your strengths, but don’t allow them to limit your progress. Being an auditory learner, for example, will grant you the ability to understand conversations in your target language faster. But don’t simply limit your studies to listening, or else you’ll risk becoming a person who can understand but not speak, or read but not understand, etc. Where’s the fun in that??
Do you think you have to live in a country to learn the language?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below 🙂