10+ Best Ways To Learn A Language While Living Abroad

The language barrier is the main challenge when living abroad for most people. It can be frustrating, isolating, and sometimes even scary when you can’t communicate with others.

While it’s important to learn language before moving abroad, you can do it when you’re already in a new country. Then, your learning process can be much quicker and easier. I’ve learned six languages so far, and here are my tips and hints on learning a language better.

Learning the local language can make your living abroad experience much more enjoyable, so let’s get started!

tips learn a language when living abroad.

Download language apps

Learning a new language from apps is cost-effective and convenient, and you can use them on the go.

Unlike a traditional class, you don’t need a fixed schedule with language apps. Also, you can master the study time. Each lesson is around 15 to 30 minutes, so it’s easy to focus. 

There are plenty of language apps to choose from, and many are free.  

My favorite study app is Duolingo. It’s free, has no ads, and offers 27 languages to choose from, including the world’s most spoken languages. 

Don’t try to learn too much in one session. Half an hour to an hour a few times a week is a great start.

working from home tips

Actively practice

Speak, speak, and speak. Practice anytime you can!

Even though you may feel uncomfortable or unsure about your pronunciation or grammar, try to use the language daily.

You’ll soon get more comfortable speaking from a few words to some sentences. But, of course, the more you practice, the sooner you become fluent. Also, don’t feel shy to ask people to correct your pronunciation. 

You can also book private lessons with italki, an excellent online language learning platform that connects language learners and teachers. I also use it to learn and practice with German teachers! You can receive a $10 credit with my link.

Learn language
Try to use the local language when shopping is a great idea!

Use flashcards

Using flashcards can be an excellent self-testing approach. They easily facilitate repetition, and you can test your memory by retrieving the information from the flashcards.

I’ve been using Quizlet and Anki for years, and both are great.

Quizlet is excellent for learning new vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools such as listening and writing. Its free tier is great for basic usage, and the paid version removes ads, lets you study offline, personalize your study, and more.

Sign up for language school

In addition to learning by yourself using books, computer software, or online, learning in a language school offers many benefits.

You can practice conversations with classmates and have organized lessons, and there are plenty of resources to choose from. Also, you can learn pronunciation and pick up on the accent of your teacher.

Most importantly, the classes can motivate you to learn. The competition, learning environment, and perhaps the course cost are the factors. 

Some country offers free language courses so that you can take advantage of them. For example, their free language course was beneficial when I lived in Denmark. 

I also studied Japanese, Korean, and Spanish at university, which is better than studying alone. 

If you don’t have time for school, I highly recommend italki, an excellent online language learning platform for private classes. I’ve been using it to learn and practice German.

Have a language dictionary

Purchasing a paper dictionary or having a dictionary app is necessary when learning a new language.

A good dictionary will help translate new words and expressions as you expand your vocabulary.

Try learning six or seven words each day to widen your vocabulary steadily, and don’t overload with too many at once. 

reading book

Keep a journal

Having a physical book or notes on your phone would be best to write new words you hear throughout the day.

Also, writing down helps you memorize easier and form memory chunks in your brain. 

Find a study partner

Having a Study Buddy can make learning languages easier and more fun.

Try to persuade a friend or family member to study with you and agree on a schedule to meet and test each other regularly. 

You can practice more, have more learning resources, and better understand the topics and assignments by discussing them with each other.

Join language study groups

There are language study groups in most cities, so head to Couchsurfing, Meetup or ask your friends to find a suitable one.

When I lived in Copenhagen, I used to go to the Student House weekly and join a language meetup there. So I was able to practice and meet new friends. 

Mundo Lingo is a great group to join as well. They have weekly meetings in several countries, and it’s a great way to hang out and exchange languages. 


Have local friends

Learning a language from locals is a great practice. You can mutually exchange languages, cultures, and more. In addition, locals can show you some cool facts about the town, how to use buses/trains or how to order food in their language.

So, please don’t feel shy when meeting new friends and show your interest in learning their mother tongue.

Watch films or do anything to use the language

Watching movies or shows in a foreign language is an excellent way to learn a new language abroad. It helps improve communication skills, brings excitement, and gets used to sounds and intonations.

If you don’t like movies, watch cooking shows, travel programs, or any fields you’re interested in. 

When I was studying Japanese, I watched anime with sub. And it helped! 

Read newspaper

When you have some knowledge, try to read children’s books or newspapers in the local language to broaden your vocabulary and improve your reading skills.

Get your dictionary and journal ready with you. Search and write down new words you don’t know and memorize them afterward.

It would be best to start with a short paragraph and then extend it daily. 

More tips to learn a language while living abroad

To be straight, learning a new language is not easy, and it’s a long process.

Try to immerse yourself in the language, practice anytime you can, and apply these tips above.

Also, unless you’re extraordinarily talented, please don’t expect to be fluent in 3 months or half a year. Although some websites will tell you that it’s possible, it would be best to avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.

 You can shorten your time significantly if you study more each day, but you can’t get away from spending hours. So what I suggest to do is to create a strong foundation once you’ve moved abroad. Happy learning!

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One Comment

  1. Daria Skibinska says:

    The practicing part cannot be over-rated. As a language teacher, i tell all my students that they can read all the books they want, listen to songs in the language or watch films, but if they don’t use the language they are learning, they will never be able to use it.
    This is a great post – really like the diverse list of the methods :)

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