Trying to convince your parents, and maybe yourself, that time in another country to study a language without being in a formal classroom is a good idea? Here are nine. Maybe they will help you and/or your parents feel a little better.
1. Get Out of the Classroom
You’ve spent thousands of hours sitting in classes during the regular school-year. Why spend your time abroad in a similar setting? Unless, of course, education is a subject in which you’re interested.
2. Get Out Into the World
There’s far more to learning a language than diagramming sentences. In fact, the formal languages often taught in language courses are considerably different from the way natives speak. (Think about your last English class and compare it to how you talk.)
3. Natives Are Better Teachers
When you’re immersed in a foreign culture where everyone speaks an unfamiliar language, you’ll find that you learn the quickly language – especially key phrases.
4. Gain Perspective
Words communicate our cultural differences that no textbook can. Learning the meanings of various ways locals emphasize words can bring new perspectives on language that you don’t get in a classroom.
5. Expansive Vocabulary
Let’s be honest: vocabulary books and translation guides give you a limited number of words. There are far more words in a language than those taught in the classroom. Try learning the words people use every day – by every day interaction with them.
6. Get Moving
It’s pretty easy when you’re given a map, recommendations and someone to contact if you get lost. Without those, you’ll have to learn to get around. Your reading skills will also improve as you learn directions, sign meanings and menus.
7. Hang with the Locals
Too often, when studying abroad in a classroom setting, there are many other Americans studying there as well. Unfortunately, often they all hang out together – inside and outside the classroom. So, studying abroad outside the classroom will force you to talk in the native language.
8. Tough It Out
Almost all of us get homesick, and it helps if there are fellow students who understand, but studying abroad outside the classroom allows you to build the confidence not only in speaking the language but in knowing you can take care of yourself.
9. You Decide
Finally, you get to decide your schedule when studying abroad. If you learn best in the afternoon, you can focus then.
As long as you’re self-motivated and disciplined, studying a language abroad outside the classroom can be a great learning experience. I’ve given you some reasons – now go do it!
Contributed by William Pate