10+ Best Ways To Learn A Language While Living Abroad

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The language barrier is a major 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 a new 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 language living abroad


Download language apps

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

You don’t need a fixed schedule with language apps as you would in a traditional class, and you can master the study time. Also, each lesson is around 10 to 30 minutes, so it’s easy to focus. 

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

My favorite study app is Duolingo. It’s free, 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. Fifteen minutes or half an hour a few times a week is a great start.

working from home tips


Use flashcards

Using flashcards can be a great 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. Quizlet is amazing for learning new vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools such as listening and writing.


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, 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 cost of the course are the factors. 

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

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


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

It would be best to have a physical book or notes on your phone where you 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 regularly meet and test each other. 

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 not only be able to practice, but I also met 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. 



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 in daily life.

From a few words to some sentences, you’ll soon get more comfortable with speaking. But, of course, the more you practice, the sooner you become fluent. 

Also, don’t feel ashamed to ask people to correct your pronunciation. 

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


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 you can get 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 certain 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 that you don’t know, and try to memorize them afterward.

It would be best if you started with a short paragraph and then extend more day by day. 


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!