From Silent to Social- Tips for Building Language Skills When Moving Overseas

From Silent to Social- Tips for Building Language Skills When Moving Overseas


Moving to a new country is an adventure of a lifetime, and we don’t have to pretend it’s easy. As thrilling as it is to embark on life in a new culture, one of the biggest hurdles expats and global nomads face is the language barrier. When you first arrive, you may find yourself tongue-tied, struggling to order food or make new friends. But with some effort and the right techniques, you can go from silent to social and become conversationally fluent in your new home abroad. With patience and persistence, the rewards of pushing past the language barrier are immense. Before you know it, you’ll go from struggling tourists to confident locals. Here are some tips that can help build language skills in the new nation.

Learn Before You Leave

Don’t wait until you’ve already relocated to begin studying the language. Start familiarizing yourself with the basics while you’re still in your home country. Apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone make it easy and convenient to practice a new language. Spend 20-30 minutes each day leading up to your move actively studying vocabulary, common phrases, grammar rules, and pronunciation. The knowledge you gain beforehand will provide a helpful foundation when you arrive.

Immerse Yourself

Once you’ve moved overseas, full immersion is key for fast fluency. Interact with local people as much as possible, read signs and menus, listen to TV and radio broadcasts, change your phone’s language setting, and think/journal in your new language. Full immersion forces you to rely on the language instead of falling back on English, accelerating your comprehension. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – your willingness to try conversing is what matters most initially.

Find a Language Buddy

Having a friend who is a native speaker of your target language is invaluable. Look on apps like HelloTalk to locate language exchange partners who are trying to learn English and can help you master their native tongue. Meet up regularly with your language buddy to practice everyday conversation skills. Ask them for feedback on your pronunciation and grammar. Over time, talking with a language partner will boost your confidence and get you speaking comfortably.

Take Formal Lessons

While independent study is helpful, working with a qualified teacher accelerates progress by giving a structured curriculum and expert instruction. Hire an online tutor on platforms like Verbling for virtual lessons. In your new home country, enroll in small group or individual language classes. Having an expert coach critique your speech patterns and correct your errors will get you to fluency faster.

Study Common Scenarios

Learn scripts, sample sentences, and key phrases for common real-life scenarios like ordering at restaurants, small talk with neighbors, making doctor appointments, traveling by cab or public transit, and more. Study them diligently and practice out loud. That way, phrases will spring automatically from your memory when you need them. Flashcard apps can help memorize key vocabulary for everyday situations.

Think in Your New Language

At first, you’ll be translating in your head back and forth between English and your new language. Push past this crutch as quickly as possible. Instead of thinking about how you would say something in English, challenge yourself to conceptualize ideas directly in your new language. It will feel clumsy at first but gets easier with practice. Soon you’ll realize you’re thinking and even dreaming in your new tongue!

Don’t Be Shy – Make Conversation!

It’s natural to feel self-conscious when speaking a foreign language, worried about looking foolish if you mispronounce a word or use the wrong grammar. But hiding in silence will never improve your skills. Every chance you get, make conversation with native speakers, even if it’s just simple small talk about the weather. The more you speak out loud, the more comfortable you’ll become in expressing yourself.

Watch Children’s Shows and Read Kids’ Books

Don’t be afraid to try watching familiar cartoons or reading fairytales translated into your new language. The simple vocabulary and grammar make them great learning tools. You’ll gain confidence in recognizing basic words and phrases. Later you can move on to news broadcasts, sitcoms, dramas, novels, poetry, and other materials for adults. But starting simple is effective.

Make Vocabulary Sticky with Mnemonics

Relate new vocabulary words to imagery and associative meanings that stick in your brain. Come up with silly sentences, acronyms, rhymes, or vivid mental pictures to help glue foreign words into your memory. The more creative and peculiar the mnemonic device, the better it will work. This technique makes recalling new terms much easier.

Listen to Music and Sing Along

Surround yourself with music in your target language. Put playlists on while cooking, cleaning, commuting, or working out. Singing along with the lyrics will help train your brain to sound more natural pronouncing words. Pay attention to common words and phrases. Look up lyrics online to learn new vocabulary. Familiar songs will become easy conversational springboards.

Don’t Stress Perfection – Progress Over Precision

In the beginning, you’ll make countless mistakes in grammar, syntax, pronunciation, and more. That’s normal. Language learning comes through practice, repetition, and usage over time. Focus more on actively communicating rather than perfect precision. With regular practice, your brain will start recognizing errors, and you’ll gradually improve. But don’t expect flawlessness right away.

Reward Yourself to Stay Motivated

Learning a new language while adjusting to an overseas move has its challenges. When you achieve a goal like holding a basic conversation, passing a test, or reading a book – celebrate your progress! Go to a movie, enjoy a fun meal out, and buy yourself a treat. Having regular rewards will keep you motivated to continue advancing your language skills.

Be Patient and Persistent

Becoming fluent in a new language doesn’t happen overnight after a few Duolingo lessons. But if you put in regular practice through immersion, classes, conversations, music, reading, and more – your skills will improve dramatically within a few months. Stick with it, be patient with the process, and remain persistent even when feeling discouraged. Your hard work will pay off!

Let Rightstar Relocations Help You Adjust Overseas

Relocating internationally and learning a new language at the same time is an incredible life adventure. But it also comes with major challenges. The experienced global mobility consultants at Rightstar Relocations understand the struggles faced by expats. Their personalized services can help you adapt smoothly to your new overseas home. Rightstar offers customized relocation plans tailored for each client. Their experts handle all the key details related to international moves – immigration needs, household goods shipments, home/school search assistance, cultural training, language lessons, and more. Rightstar will ensure your transition abroad goes smoothly, so you can concentrate on building an exciting new life in your destination. Contact Rightstar Relocations today to get started planning a seamless move overseas.



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