International Assignments: Learning the Lingo

Moving to a new location is extremely exciting and a fantastic opportunity to learn fresh life skills including how to speak a new language. This may seem a daunting task at first (and many assignees describe feeling nervous regarding language barriers), but do not fear: there are many tools and tricks that will have you chatting with the locals in no time!

Before you go

Immersing yourself within the language will do wonders for your language skills, but how do you prepare before you go?

In these modern times of technology, you need look no further than your smart phone; apps like Duolingo and Babel are designed to help with a variety of different activities so you can improve your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in a new language. Just remember to keep up your Duolingo streak to avoid disappointing the green owl character that will nag you to practice!

Youtube can also be a great help, for example channels like ‘Easy Languages’ show locals discussing a variety of different topics with subtitles displayed in both English and the spoken language. If you are struggling to keep up with the pace of conversation in the videos, a handy tip is to adjust the video speed to slow it down and to give yourself more time to take it all in.

When you arrive:

Now you’ve arrived in your new destination and you are eager to learn more, but where to begin?

Classes with a fluent/local teacher can be a great way to expand your language skills as learning with others can be a great motivation and a chance to meet new people. You have the opportunity to converse with your peers who are learning at the same level and grow your language skills together.

Classes may also give you the opportunity to reach out and make friends with native speakers from whom you will learn things that may not be covered in classes, for example the colloquial language, slang and idioms that will truly help you fit into local culture.

Local TV and radio are also fantastic resources; you get to hear people speak about topical events and get to know the dialect. This can be very useful whether you are 100% focused on what you’re listening to or would just like some background sound.

Get out there and keep practising!

It can feel nerve-wracking speaking to locals in a language you’re not confident in but almost everyone will be happy that at least you are trying! It’s important to remember any mistakes you do make are an opportunity to learn and will be a funny story to tell in the future.

The most important factor is to keep going; learning a new language takes time but a little practice every day will work wonders in the long run. Many multilinguals will tell you that consistency is key – maintaining your daily practice and dedication will pay off in the end.

Have fun and keep motivated!

Written by Sofie Finemore – Associate Consultant – Global Mobility & Expatriate Services at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions