Many people choose to learn a second language by living amongst those who speak it as a native language. But the one thing of most importance is that they are happy in that situation otherwise their language studies will suffer.
So instead of permanently relocating, many people go on an extended trip to the country instead. Sometimes, the very best opportunities to gain experience speaking the new language can come from the most simple tasks – for example catching a bus or buying an item from a shop.
One of the reasons for this is because when someone is presented with a study course, or left to choose which parts of the language they study, they fail to tackle the really difficult parts (for a variety of reasons). But when the focus is simply on getting something done (such as catching a bus or buying some food) they have no choice in the matter and no way of avoiding learning the necessary words and vocabulary in order to complete the task. If you are going to travel abroad for a language course it’s just as well to make sure that you retain as much as possible!
Another reason is that the student is not just reciting phrases from a book. Conversations will develop into unexpected verbal ‘territory’ and the student will have to try to be understood. It’s a lot easier to give up on a difficult task when failure only involves closing a book. When it involves walking out of a shop empty-handed, or walking off a bus – it’s a little more frustrating, therefore the person learning the language is much more likely to dig in,learn quickly and retain the information – fear of embarrassment is a great learning tool!
While on a language course, the student is likely to spend a lot of time surrounded by natural speakers of the country’s native tongue. This has a lot of benefits, some obvious and some not so obvious. It’s possible to pick up ideas and and understanding subconsciously just by being in their presence. This type of learning can greatly improve the student’s ability to master the little nuances of the language, such as intonation and emphasis on certain words.
An excellent way to encourage the mind to develop all of the skills required to master a new language is distraction. For example, imagine spending day after day consciously trying to learn a language. Once the task becomes boring or tedious, the mind has a tendency to rebel in order to remove the perceived ‘pain’ felt by continuing with the task. Trying to learn a new language, like the English language, for example, should be enjoyable, not a chore.
There is a perfect solution for this that not only helps the student to learn the language more quickly and thoroughly,but also makes the whole language course a much more fun and memorable experience – mix the heavy learning sessions up with totally different sessions where having fun is the key aim. These activities are carefully planned in order to develop the individual, as well as ensuring that while distracted with simply having fun, they are also in an environment where they will be exposed to native speakers of the language while also occasionally being required to either just listen or also speak in the language that they are learning.
Particularly if the student is young, this also provides the perfect opportunity to get them involved in character building activities that require and develop teamwork, communication skills, courage, leadership, listening to and acting on instructions whilst using initiative as well – and many other crucial abilities that will help them throughout their life. The end result is that the learner will probably feel like they have been intensively studying constantly, but in fact they will have picked up new language skills throughout all of the different experiences – perfect! Lots of English language course participants will be pleased to hear this – you learn much more when you’re having lots of fun!