What do you need to organise before embarking on a language learning holiday?
1 – Pick a language
Sounds obvious right?! But… for someone like me.. this can be a challenge! At the moment, my focus language is Chinese but I have some other languages in the background – particularly Vietnamese and Japanese. What language is your priority right now? Do you want to learn a language spoken by many people throughout the world? Or does a more obscure or less spoken language interest you? Would you like to study a different script such as Arabic or Russian? Or would you prefer to learn a language with a romanised script such as Bahasa Indonesia or Vietnamese?
2 – Pick a country
Again, sounds easy? But…. for many languages there is more than ONE option for what country you study in. I have studied Chinese in China, and I’m now studying Chinese in Taiwan. I have also considered Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia as other options for studying Chinese Mandarin. I settled on Taiwan in the end because I have always found the Taiwanese accent to be really clear and easy to understand. The food is great here and it is easy to get around. French and Spanish are also good examples of languages with a multitude of countries where you can choose to study these languages. You might want to study French in New Caledonia or Spanish in Paraguay.
3 – Choose a city
So you’ve selected your language and country you want to study in. Now… where in that country? If you’ve chosen a country like China, France, Japan or Mexico… well your options for studying are immense.
Some things to consider to pick the perfect language learning destination –
- climate – do you prefer hot, humid summers or cold, snowy winters?
- size of city – do you feel comfortable in a mega city like Tokyo or Shanghai or would you prefer a smaller scale city like Nagoya or Ningbo?
- number of universities or institutions – how many universities or private institutions does your city have? Are there at least a couple of options to choose from?
- dialects or accents – this can be important especially as a beginner. A clear, easy to understand accent in your target language makes getting around a lot easier.
- cost of living – some countries and cities can be more expensive than others. Do some research on accommodation and food prices to get a sense of the cost of living in your chosen city.
- safety – check if there are any safety concerns you need to be aware of.
- will your family/partner/children will have things to do whilst you are studying? this is important if you are travelling with your family, as you need to know your partner and children will be happy and entertained whilst you are studying! Try and find some parenting blogs/websites of your chosen destination to get an idea of activities and services available for families. I found a cute blog – A Toddler in Taipei.
- availability of short term accommodation – you will need somewhere to stay while you are studying. I recommend a small studio or apartment as I like to have a kitchen so I can prepare some meals and snacks at home. I also look for a desk/table so I can work and study from home. We usually use Airbnb to find accommodation and in Taipei have found a great, two bedroom apartment only 10 minutes walk to Taiwan Mandarin Institute. Tripadvisor is another great comparison tool for finding accommodation.
- access from your home to your destination – can you travel directly to your chosen city or do you need to transfer in another destination first? Double check airlines and flight routes so you can maximise your time in-country! I use Skyscanner to get the best prices and connections possible.
- food and culture – this is important for me and I believe that food is an integral part of my language learning holidays. I also love coffee, so it is a bonus if my chosen city is also a coffee haven (thumbs up for Taipei!).
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on studying Chinese in China and in Taiwan. Sign up to receive my blogs so you don’t miss out!
4 – Decide on a language school
Find out as much as you can about your choice of city/destination and language school. Use third party review sites and more importantly talk to people you know (either in real life or via social) to get a good handle on if your choice of destination and school stack up. Asia Options has some great intel on Asian related study and reviews on many language learning university courses. TripAdvisor may have reviews on your chosen school and their Facebook page is also a good place to get a sense on the type of institution it is.
5 – Make a budget and a plan
Perhaps most importantly you need to get support and buy-in from your family before you get to this stage.
Lingo Dada loves adventures and is always up for a new country and new language, but as he will be caring for Lingo Bubba while I’m out studying and reliving my student days in cafes, he needs to know there is plenty for him to do and it will be relatively easy for him to get around.
We’ve had so many friends comment on our choice of Taiwan – from “isn’t Taipei in Korea?” to “are you sure they speak Chinese in Taiwan?” and “why are you going there? what is there to do there?” But we are SO happy with our choice and it’s only DAY ONE!
6 – Lock it in
- Book your flights – use Skyscanner to compare prices
- Enrol in your school of choice
- Find accommodation – use Tripadvisor to compare accommodation prices
- Research fun things to do in your spare time and great places to try the local food
- Bon voyage and happy studying!
I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about your next language learning trip. Ask away!
Read more on organising a language learning trip here! My 9 step blog post series covers EVERYTHING you need to organise!
I’d love to know what is most important to you for your next language learning holiday?
Where would you like to go? What do you want to study?
Happy language learning,
Lingo Mama xx