Moving abroad? Here’s why you should drop everything and learn the language first.

Mar 6, 2017 5:18:18 PM / by Britta Wilhelmsen

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from being polyglots (and meeting countless others), it’s that language learning and wanderlust go hand in hand. There are a variety of reasons to study a second language - even without the incentive of travel. It can open up new job opportunities in your home country, you’ll gain valuable phonetic skills, and it’s a nice boost for your cultural IQ - just to name a few.

That said, spending quality time in a foreign country offers an immersion experience you just can’t get on your home turf. That’s why more people are choosing to move abroad than ever before, whether for work, study, or simply to get away for a while. Our tip? Learn the local language before you get there.

 

Kickstart your adventure - and keep it going strong.

Many travelers fall for the popular myth that living abroad alone magically results in foreign language fluency. This can happen for some people (if that’s you, teach us your ways), but most of us still have to put in the same amount of commitment and hard work - no matter where we are. In fact, trying to grasp a new language in an unfamiliar environment only adds an extra layer of stress to the process. You may find yourself sticking with other expats who speak your native language, rather than branching out and meeting locals.

Don’t let that be you! If you’re thinking about taking that leap abroad, starting your language prep now is one of the best decisions you can make. You’ll be able to focus on nailing the basic grammar and vocabulary without distractions, and it’ll give you the momentum you need to continue practicing once you’ve set foot in your new home. Added bonus: you’ll know how to order that delicious-looking sandwich and coffee when you finally get off the plane.

 

Get the inside scoop.

It might sound cheesy, but speaking the local language can be your ticket to a whole new world abroad. No one knows the ins and outs of a city quite like the locals, and depending on where you go, it’s likely that the majority of them won’t speak your native language. Don’t let a communication barrier be the reason you miss out on that once-in-a-lifetime restaurant or that pop-up concert at someone’s warehouse. Those are the stories you’ll be telling for years to come, and trust us - they’re certainly worth a little language practice.

Simply put, the ability to communicate with locals in a foreign country brings you outside your bubble in the best way. Not only will you enjoy unique experiences and insider recommendations, but you’ll form deeper friendships that otherwise might not be possible. You’ll come to rely on them for support, laughs, new perspectives, and emergency advice. Having this strong network abroad - not just with other expats - is extremely beneficial for long-term success in any new country.

 

Breathe a little easier.

Let’s face it - traveling is often a perfect recipe for accidents and unexpected twists. Whether you lose your passport or your apartment suddenly floods, you need to be prepared to handle the uncomfortable situations that arise. Knowing a few simple phrases in the local language can go a long way in many of these cases. Say, for example, you experience an allergic reaction while abroad and have to go to the nearest medical clinic for treatment. There’s no guarantee that any of the staff will speak your language, making the whole situation that much more more distressing (and probably frightening) for you. You don’t have to express yourself perfectly - but understanding even a few words in a shared language can ease your mind and get the situation under control more quickly.

This feeling of being at ease is important for daily life abroad, too - it’s not just for emergencies. Routine activities such as grocery shopping or picking up laundry will start to feel like second nature instead of a burden on your day. It’s the little things that will help you better assimilate into the local culture, leaving more time for you to focus on the new experiences you’re having and the people you’re meeting.

 

Boost your marketability.

You’ve heard it a million times already: speaking multiple languages has profound benefits when it comes to career mobility. Even if you’re not moving abroad for professional reasons, it’s always a good idea to enhance your skillset by demonstrating language competency. You never know what opportunities might come up during your time there, and who knows - you might just fall in love and find yourself relocating permanently. However it works out, getting the local language under your belt will open you up to more (and better paid) jobs, employers will take you more seriously, and you’ll even have the ability to take international courses or work towards a degree abroad. Keeping yourself open to possibilities is part of the thrill of living in a foreign country, and it starts with language learning.

Whatever your reason for wanting to live abroad, we’re behind you 100%. The Mango Grove is home to dozens of free spirits and world travelers, and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to them, we’ve developed over 70 language courses from Norwegian to Telugu and even the endangered language of Tuvan. Saving money for the big trip? We’ve got your back with the help of thousands of public libraries that offer Mango for free. We only ask that you share your stories with us when, or if, you return.

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Topics: Corporate, Language Learning and Culture

Britta Wilhelmsen

Written by Britta Wilhelmsen

Britta is a University of Michigan graduate, currently living and working in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she's not busy teaching English to business professionals or writing for Mango, you can find her enjoying the sun in one of Buenos Aires' beautiful parks and/or studying Spanish in her free time. Like many mangos, she believes that language consistently makes life more colorful.

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