It’s one thing to learn the theory of a language and study vocab from a textbook at home, but it’s an entirely different thing to study abroad and spend every day surrounded by it. And, while both of these methods can help you gain valuable language skills, only one of them has been proven to turbocharge your language learning (hint – it’s not staying at home).
Here are 10 reasons why studying a language abroad is better than at home:
1. You’ll be totally immersed in the language
There’s literally no way of avoiding the language you’re trying to learn. From speaking with your host family and watching local TV shows to ordering food at restaurants and even reading the advertising pinned up around town, every interaction with the local culture will be adding new words to your vocabulary and deepening your understanding of the language.
2. It’ll keep your mom happy
You get to spend time living abroad with friends AND your parents will think it’s a great idea. Win-win! Going on a language course abroad is an experience like no other; your confidence and independence will flourish while you also become totally culturally savvy. Your mom knows that not only will you have an unforgettable time, but you’ll also be developing valuable life and language skills to help you reach your full potential, both personally and professionally.
3. You have to use your new skills daily
Practice makes perfect, and, when you live abroad, there’s no way you can avoid putting all your new language skills into practice every, single, day. But here’s the best part: it doesn’t feel like practice. When everyone around you is chatting in their native tongue, you’ll be getting involved and keeping up in no time. Asking for directions, watching a film at the cinema, and checking out the local surf report: it all counts as effortless daily language practice.
4. You’ll make a bunch of new friends
Because nothing quite says “friends for life” like finding other people who have just moved miles away from home and also need new buddies to hang with. With international classmates, you’re guaranteed a diverse and interesting group of people to learn from and laugh with, and there’s one thing you’ll all definitely have in common: your new language! Also, don’t forget about connecting with the locals; speaking with people in their mother tongue is one of the best ways to sharpen your ear, cement your grasp of the language, and give you an insider’s view into the culture.
5. It’s all about the “life experience”
You’re not just learning a language, you’re learning how to survive in an entirely new culture. Wherever you go, local life will be different from back home. From social greetings to going to the grocery store and making friends to riding the bus, living abroad is both exciting and challenging. By overcoming these everyday challenges, you’ll be able to handle anything else life throws at you.
6. It looks great on your CV
First of all, learning a language looks great to your future employers or college admissions boards: it shows you’re able to focus, dedicate yourself to your studies, and have the kind of super-awesome brain that can handle learning a foreign tongue. But, combine this with the proof that you’ve embraced new challenges and handled living abroad like a pro and boom, suddenly you’re the whole package.
7. Just think of ALL the travel
Studying a language abroad can (almost) be thought of as one big holiday. Sure, you have to go to class and study, but you also get to spend your time with new friends exploring a brand new city. In fact, there’s a whole new country on your doorstep that’s just a dying to be discovered.
8. You’ll learn colloquialisms and actually useful phrases
Textbooks and classes aren’t going to keep you up to date with slang or teach you how to not embarrass yourself in front of your new friends. The best way to be completely socially-savvy in another language is to live it. (Our articles on British, Aussie, and American expressions can help as well.)
9. It’s an opportunity to pick up new hobbies
Pick a study abroad destination that offers a different environment from your hometown, then grab every opportunity you have to try new things. If you’ve always wanted to scuba dive then head to Malta, or take a course in San Diego to become a pro surfer in your spare time. Exploring the forests outside Vancouver, you might discover a love for hiking, or after spending a winter in Tokyo and visiting the ski resorts, you could find snowboarding is your new lifelong hobby.
10. You’ll discover new foods
Because food is, of course, always an important part of every decision. Every country has its own individual culture and cuisine, and every locale has its own regional signature dishes. Think how many different tapas you could devour while studying for a few months in Barcelona or how much cheese you could consume on a semester in Paris…