Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language

As you may or may not know, I’m quite active over on my travel Instagram. I post daily, interact with a ton of awesome people, and expand on my wanderlust every time I scroll down my feed. Instagram is a great place to make new friends and learn about different places around the world!

One of my favourite travel Instagrammers is Sophie. Sophie’s feed is absolutely beautiful, filled with photos from her travels and daily life in England. She also has a blog, where she shares a good mix of travel guides, personal posts and reviews! I’m so glad I have had the chance to collaborate with Sophie. She has written a super helpful post for my blog, all about learning a language and how to adapt to using it! I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are interested in learning a new language, but find it intimidating and are unsure where to start. So hopefully Sophie can give you all some encouragement!


Getting Immersed in a Country Through Language: A Guest Post By Sophie

Hello, it’s such a pleasure to be writing on this blog today! I’m going to be talking about language learning and how it can really aid you when travelling and also give you a more immerse (and somewhat better) experience.
Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language
I am someone who always found languages extremely challenging, mainly because speaking in English is hard enough at times right! I did learn a language at school, Spanish, however lets just say I narrowly passed the subject and I cannot remember much. However now, as a result of falling in love with a certain country I really want to get a grasp of its language. That country is Japan, within the last two years I would have been four times by September, and next year I plan to be working there after I graduate, meaning if I just keep on going without attempting to learn Japanese, I would be a little bit of a fail…
So here is my guide to learning a language, adapting whilst abroad/attempting to use it, coupled with a couple of embarrassing stories where I just epically failed (it happens).

TIPS FOR LEARNING A LANGUAGE

Be dedicated and determined
This is crucial. If you have no drive to learn, you will not be able to, so you might as well give up now! Languages are hard, and require much time and effort to learn, they are no walk in the park. Make sure you have time allocated to learn and ensure that you intend to focus during that time.

Get the right materials
The right materials can make or break your learning. For instance, a really boring but overwhelming textbook will put you right off. Which is why books that are aimed at younger students are often better when starting out, they’re made to be approachable and easy to follow. Make sure to invest in some CDs and some workbooks too, you need to be able listen to things to know the pronunciation, and a workbook to put your skills to the test.

Speak to people
This can either be going to a proper class where you’ll be with other learners and a qualified teacher, or speak to native speakers. You need to put your work to practice and also have another person correct you. Without intervention from others you might learn things in the wrong way!

Immerse yourself
Whether this is travelling to the country in question (which realistically is the best way) or by watching films, listening to music, reading in the language, immersion is a great way to test yourself both under pressure and without pressure.

Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language
HOW EASY IS IT TO ADAPT?
Not as easy as you might have thought! In classes, and learning myself, my comprehension of Japanese is pretty good, and I can get sentences out. However, last time I went to Japan, I was just one walking fail. I couldn’t even explain to a member of staff at a restaurant that I wanted a table for four properly…he thought I wanted to eat at four.

Basically, you may think you will be able to communicate, but when you’re hit with some vocabulary you’ve never heard before, and the other person in the conversation speaks with speed without considering you’re not fluent, it can become an issue. Of course in the past during other trips, I’ve found it easy. At Mt Takao I was able to converse with a lovely kind man at the monkey sanctuary, with my broken Japanese and his broken English we had a good convo!

Some people will help you and understand your lack of fluency, but remember some will not and conversations that you plan in your head will often not happen! I feel like this will be much less of a problem next time I visit Japan, as I have 12 more months of learning (and two terms of intensive classes!) but as a beginner, remember you will get frustrated and you will not be able to use the language as much as you would like to, ultimately you will always need and want to learn more.

 Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language
WHY IT’S USEFUL WHEN TRAVELLING TO NEW COUNTRIES
  • Being able to say ‘I don’t speak (insert language here)’ or ‘Could you speak a little slower? I struggle with (insert language here)’ or ‘Does anyone understand simple English?’ can make conversing a whole lot easier if you need something!
  • Even if you only learn a couple of phrases to help your manners: Please, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry, pardon etc will mean even if you cannot communicate well, the people of that country will understand you’re not a rude person or mute if you’re in an awkward situation.
  • If you learn certain words for foods, directions this too can help you. Combine this with ‘I don’t speak very good (insert language here)’ and people will be willing to help you with whatever you have asked, and they will bear in mind to speak simply and slowly (or will sometimes reply back with broken english!)
  • People will be more willing to engage with you if you speak in their language. It says a lot about you if you are willing to take the time to learn a few phrases, you’re not just travelling for the photos and to tick items off a list!
  • Finally, isn’t it frustrating not being able to talk to people as you would normally?!

Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language

I hope you found this post helpful, and I hope some of you have considered maybe learning to speak in another tongue!

Have any of you learnt any languages in the past, or in fact are any of you bilingual? If not would you consider learning for the future? Also thank you to Rhiannon for inviting me to guest post on her blog! It’s been lovely! <3 Her guest post will be going on live on my blog soon if you would like to pop over and have a read!

Sophie’s Blog: sophieannetaylor.com
Sophie’s Instagram: @sophieannetaylor

Note: All photos in this post belong to Sophie.

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Learning A Language: Immersing Yourself In A Country Through Language

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  • Teri

    I moved to Brazil after yang basic Portuguese lessons but they didn’t understand what I was saying until my ear picked up the annotations , dialect and intonation. I knew I progressed when I was mistaken for a Brazilian from Bahia (another state where they speak slower )