Going Native and Learning the Lingo
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Extended periods of travel are the best way to get to know a new culture. Whether you have managed to scrape the cash together in order to luxuriate for a full month or you are planning a new adventure working abroad, living like the locals will bring you new perspectives, new ideas, and new experiences.
Apart from the usual seeing things, eating things and lying by the beach things that you normally do on holiday, an extended period of travel also allows you the chance to learn how to speak a bit of the language. Even if you aren’t going to be fluent by the time you get home, humans seem to be wired to pick up different languages. We naturally prick our ears up to the cadence of the speech and begin to mimic it, if only subtly. (Don’t believe it? Try saying “I’ll be back” and not imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger!)
The best way to gradually learn a language is by naturally picking it up, listening and speaking to native speakers and slowly learning the rules of the language as you go. This is the method used by Effortless English on their course for fluency and works perfectly well for other languages too.
So here’s what you can do to fast-track your learning:
Talk to Native Speakers
The best way to learn anything from a culture you are unfamiliar with is to visit it. The same logic applies to language: if you want to talk like a native, find a native to talk to. You might start small by chatting with your waiter at a restaurant when you order, or if you are working abroad, perhaps you will chat over lunch.
Learning by rote will give you a good sense of how language can work, but often conversation doesn’t necessarily flow in exactly the same way as your exercises. People are more spontaneous in conversation, and it is this that will help your verbal acrobatics kick in.
Looking for Non-Verbal Communication
If you are struggling to follow a conversation, take note of the body language and the tone being used to get a clue about the subject. You don’t actually need to understand every word to get the gist of a conversation and these non-verbal communications will help you to keep up.
When babies are learning to talk, they tend to babble. What is interesting about that is that they babble using the cadences of what will become their first language. This is helpful to you because it shows that learning a language is instinctive and there is plenty of information in the way something is spoken as well as what is being said.
To improve your reading and writing as well as your vocabulary, try to read everything you come across. Leaflets, ticket stubs, receipts, labels – you name it, you should read it. This is because all of these different things will cover different types of writing, making you a more proficient reader and writer in the language.
Disclosure: This is a contributed post.