Learning a language abroad

Overview

It is often said that the best, and quickest, way to learn any language is to visit a native speaking country. From volunteering on a rural French farm, to taking private Flamenco dance lessons in Seville, we look at the best ways to learn a language abroad.

1. Volunteering

As we wrote in our ‘10 Ways to learn a language for free‘ blog, volunteering in a foreign country can be a great (and very cheap) way to immerse yourself in a different language and culture.

There are several portal websites which match volunteers with ‘hosts’. Generally you will be asked to do 5 hours of volunteering per day, in return for your food and accommodation, with two days off per week. You can choose from working in a hostel in a dynamic Barcelona, or helping a sheep farmer in rural France and much, much more!

The most popular (and the best in our experience both as volunteers and hosts) is Workaway.info – this costs £32 per year, however this enables you to contact all hosts worldwide.

Cheaper options – but with less variety – Helpx.net and Wwoof.net may also be worth checking out. For something more organised, Concordia Volunteers have a database of international volunteer programmes.

One tip – if your main goal is improving your speaking & listening, it may be better to avoid big cities, or volunteering opportunities where you will be speaking a lot of English. My Spanish improved the most when I was stuck in a tiny Spanish village helping out on a self-sufficient farm – Harry. 

Me (Harry) volunteering on a construction site just outside of Paris.
Me (Harry) volunteering with friends on a construction site, just outside Paris.

2. Language Holidays

Mixing a holiday with improving your language skills has increased in popularity over recent years. Most courses offer a minimum of 3 hours of lessons each morning, leaving the rest of the day to explore the local area, take part in the school’s social activities program, or even practise another skill in a foreign language – such as surfing, cooking, yoga or dancing.

We work with some of the best schools around the world to offer you special deals on these holidays, which are available all year round. Check our database below:

Spanish_Course_San_Sebastian_surfing
Language holidays are a great opportunity to mix lessons with other hobbies

3. Working Abroad

Getting and job and working abroad can be the most challenging, and rewarding, way to learn a new language. Unless you are already at least at intermediate level of the native language, you may find it very difficult to get a job in a new country. The exception to this is teaching English as a foreign language, where you are not often required to speak any language other than English! 

One other barrier is acquiring a Work Visa, although at the time of writing UK citizens are still able to work across the EU without having to do this. 

TEFL.com and Dave’s EFL Cafe are good resources for English teaching jobs, and we also have our own page, specifically for language related jobs:

"A very good way of bringing language fans together. Thank you"
Audrey
French and German learner, Leeds - via meetup.com

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