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What are the most common challenges expats face when they move abroad?
For an expat entrepreneur, the first things that come to mind are adjusting your business to the needs of the local market, dealing with documentation, and establishing partnerships. However, all these problems have one common denominator – the knowledge of a foreign language.
In a personal blog, Sanne Wesselman, an expat entrepreneur in Spain, made an interesting point, ‘not knowing the local language will make your business fail very quickly.’ This statement couldn’t be more accurate.
Without the knowledge of the language, you won’t understand the driving forces behind the local customer’s purchase decisions. Language also holds the key to the culture, which you also need to take into account when opening a business abroad.
Of course, given the fact how busy entrepreneurs usually are, they need a way to learn a language quickly and effectively.
Is it possible?
It sure is, and we’ve prepared a few helpful recommendations for Expats. Take a look.
Tips for Expats to Learn a Language Quickly
1. Figure Out a Structure to Ensure Consistency
We can talk about learning essential vocabulary, practicing the language in different situations, and working on your grammar, but it all doesn’t matter if you only do it from time to time.
The thing is – your brain just won’t hold new information for too long without consistent repetition.
According to the research from Science Daily, short repetitive exposure to new words induces a rapid neural response increase necessary for memory-trace formation.
In other words, even if you take 15 minutes a day to repeat what you’ve already learned, the chances of this information sticking around in your memory get significantly higher.
The good part about this approach to language learning is that it fits everyone, no matter how good or bad your memory is. The study involved dyslexic children, and a consistent language learning schedule still helped them achieve positive results.
So, make sure you build a structured plan to learn a language. You don’t have to spend hours a day learning new words – 20 minutes will do. To make things easier, download an app with flashcards to practice the vocabulary you’ve already learned. StudySmart is a great option:
If you stick to the schedule at least for a month, you’ll already see positive effects on your level of language proficiency.
2. Find Yourself a Native Speaker
Language teachers know that speaking is at the top of all skills. However, it can be a real challenge to find a person to practice your language competencies with.
That’s why it’s a smart solution to get a tutor who’s also a native speaker of the language you want to learn. Mastering a language with native speakers has a few considerable advantages:
- It helps you understand the culture better.
- You practice pronunciation.
- A native speaker is better at explaining the reasoning behind grammar rules, idioms, and proverbial expressions.
There is a myth that lessons with native speakers cost a lot. However, you can find yourself a tutor for as much as $10 per hour (depending on the language). For instance, here are some prices from German tutors on Preply:
You can also search forums to find native speakers who are ready to do language exchange – you teach each other your native languages in return for free practice.
3. Don’t Disregard Grammar
If you take any language learning app, such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, they teach you many useful phrases and help expand your vocabulary. Unfortunately, there’s one downside – they don’t explain grammar rules.
Why is grammar so important?
Without going into detail, let’s just say you won’t be able to build a narrative without having the basic knowledge of grammar. It teaches you everything, from the word order in a sentence to tenses and constructions.
Even if you don’t notice the impact of grammar on the use of language in daily life, it can hit you pretty hard when you have to write business documentation to open a venture abroad.
For instance, you’ll need to present your business plan to your partners. Imagine how embarrassing the situation will get if your proposal is full of grammatical mistakes?
So, by all means, pay attention to grammar when learning a language – it is crucial in speaking, listening, and writing.
4. Be Mindful about Pronunciation
Pronunciation can be tricky, especially if you learn a language that’s very different from your mother tongue. Unfortunately, not many students pay attention to learning the sounds; they are more concerned with speaking and vocabulary.
However, practicing your pronunciation is not as hard as you might think. There are plenty of courses online that help you improve. For instance, here’s a German pronunciation lesson on YouTube prepare by German tutors for beginners:
Apart from that, tools like Speechling help you get your pronunciation better. Every user gets a coach who listens to the recordings of your speech and then gives recommendations:
In general, recording and then listening to yourself helps you track your mistakes better.
Over to You
As you can see, it’s not that hard for Expats to learn a language. All tools are already available; expat entrepreneurs just need to find time to practice.
No matter what language you want to master, consistency is everything. Until you reach it, you won’t get rid of the feeling that your knowledge is incomplete. Also, try to create situations in which you can practice the language. It is the only way to start feeling comfortable about your skills.
Article Submited by Ryan Pell
Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts and. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher. He likes to travel and explore new countries.