Language competency is a very important aspect of integrating in your new society. Getting a good grasp of the language of your new country will not only give you the confidence to go out and explore, it will also open your world to new opportunities and can be a way to forge new relationships.
Learning a new language can be very challenging and time consuming. But with extra effort and a lot of courage, speaking a new language can be easier than we think.
The biggest worry of most expatriates, aside for the level of difficulty, is the budget for studying a new language – going to a language school or hiring a tutor. Language courses are expensive, averaging from a few hundred euros to several thousands depending on the length of your study. Most of us left our jobs when we immigrated to Europe and we usually do not want to burden our partners with expenses.
But learning a language does not have to be expensive as long as we are resourceful and are willing to try.
Here are five few tips on learning a new language without spending a lot of money:
1. Start at home – This is the first advice that I give to those who want to learn the language of their new country. Start at home – with your husband or your in-laws. Have the discipline to speak their language from the very beginning and no matter how frustrating it is that they do not understand you most of the time. Start with the basic greetings and introductions. Practice them every chance you get.
Ask your partner to help you and correct you as long as it is necessary. Learning a language is also a fun way to strengthen your relationship but you need a lot of patience.
Start translating the name of things in your house, your home appliances, kitchen utensils, names of food or the little things at home. Since most of us Filipinos love to cook, we can also translate cooking terms so learning the language can be fun for us well. This will be handy when you go to the market.
2. Use free resources – When you arrive, get a dictionary, bookmark language learning sites on the internet and spend few hours everyday to study. You can also scout your local library for language books which you can use for exercises or borrow books from people who went to language courses.
It is recommended to buy a big notebook where you can write everything and go back to it for reference.
3. Talk to old people – If your partner has aging parents, grandparents or just old family members, ask to be introduced and make appointments to visit them. Old people are willing to talk to you for hours, especially those who are alone in their houses. And they usually speak slow so it will be easier for your to understand them.
4. Visit the markets – Open markets are fun avenues to learn a new language. Asking for the price of a certain product or telling vendors which items you want to buy can be quite scary but make sure that you have a “kodigo” or list of phrases with you.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes. It is through these mistakes that we learn.
5. Volunteer – By volunteering, for example in pension homes, soup kitchens or even a farm, you will interact with many people who will be more than willing to help you learn your new language. At the same time, you will be able to build or widen your network and create friendship.
It takes a lot of discipline to learn a new language. There will be time that you will cry out of frustrations. There will be moments that you will feel stupid. But don’t lose heart and persevere. There is nothing impossible for someone who does not stop trying.
Of course it is always better to attend a formal language course or sit down with a professional tutor to help you polish your grammar. And remember, you can’t do it overnight. Mastering a new language takes years so be patient.
Do you have more tips on learning a new language? Let us know in the comment section below.