8 Benefits of Studying a Language Abroad
03 April, 2017
Do you want to travel somewhere new and exciting? Discover more about a different culture? Or maybe you want to improve your language skills quickly and effectively? Studying abroad is the best way to do all these things! Check out the list below to find out the advantages of studying a language abroad.
1) You learn things in context
Personally, I think this is one of the most important benefits of studying abroad. If you’re unsure about a certain word or grammar structure, hearing it used in real-life situations really helps your understanding. Learning the context of a new phrase makes it easier to remember and boosts your confidence when it comes to using it. Repetition is key too! For example, hearing the same phrase on the Moscow metro every day (‘Осторожно, двери закрываются! Следующая станция…’ – ‘Be careful, the doors are closing! The next station is…) definitely helped my pronunciation.
2) You get to live with locals
This is something that only studying abroad can offer you. Many language schools give you the chance to stay with a local family. Although it can be a bit overwhelming at first, it’s surprising how quickly you get used to things and become part of the family. A homestay gives you the opportunity to practice speaking your language in a relaxed and friendly environment, and also shows you how locals really live! You get to try out lots of regional delicacies (I think I’ve eaten my body weight in pancakes (блины) since I arrived!) and experience a side to life regular travellers don’t get to see.
3) You’re completely immersed in the language
Being surrounded by a foreign language 24/7 improves your communication skills immensely. It can be exhausting and sometimes disheartening, but the results are worth it and encourage you to keep going. You’re forced by necessity to speak the language all the time, inside and outside of the classroom. Whether it’s ordering in a restaurant, chatting with your host family or going on a trip, studying abroad is by far the best way to engage with the language on an almost constant basis.
4) You make lifelong friends
A huge benefit of studying abroad is the friends you’ll make out there. From my experience, having Russian friends really makes me feel more assimilated. Talking with young people from another country is also a great way to learn colloquialisms and slang, something that textbooks just can’t offer. As well as making friends from the country you’re studying in, learning a language abroad gives you the opportunity to meet people who are in the same boat as you. This can really help if you’re struggling with homesickness or certain aspects of language learning.
5) You gain life experience
Studying a language abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Having to assimilate into a different culture can be tough, but meeting new people and discovering a completely unfamiliar way of life is also exciting. Learning abroad makes you much more independent and confident. Living in a foreign country and constantly adapting to new situations forces you to step out of your comfort zone.
6) You get to understand a new culture
So many things struck me as strange when I arrived in St. Petersburg. For example, it’s normal to wear slippers inside all the time. However, I know my host mum (хозяйка) finds English culture equally as unfamiliar (trying to explain what Marmite is is harder than it sounds!). Getting to know the culture is a huge help to your language learning. Being aware of cultural differences is really important and a good understanding of a different country’s way of life is essential for effective communication.
7) You’re more employable
Meeting new people, planning your studies, being independent and learning to communicate effectively all put you in good stead for future employment. Studying abroad gives your CV a huge boost and shows prospective employers that you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone. The cultural awareness you gain from time spent abroad is incredibly useful in dealing with people from different backgrounds. And that’s not to mention how great of a skill competency in a foreign language is!
8) It’s the experience of a lifetime!
It sounds cliché but it really is! Having the chance to study a language in the country where it’s spoken is an opportunity like no other. Your language skills improve, your confidence soars, you make new friends and you get to see a completely different side to life. Although you can get a bit homesick at times and the culture shock can take a bit of getting used to, the benefits far outweigh these slight drawbacks. It’s so fun to travel and study somewhere new and you’ll treasure the memories for a lifetime.
I hope these benefits have inspired you to study abroad – it really is as great as everyone says it is! Please take a lok at the Liden & Denz blog for more information about language learning and studying abroad!
This post was brought to you by Tilly Hicklin, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz, St. Petersburg.