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Why a language learning holiday? Study the language and travel
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Why a language learning
holiday?

Why a language learning
holiday?

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Why aren’t more people taking language learning holidays?

In my language learning travels in Nanjing, Shanghai, Saigon and Taipei – I have met many people who were surprised to hear of my reason for being in their city – to learn the language.

When I explained that I like to study the language and travel in their country they could understand that more, but it got me thinking.

Why aren’t more people doing what I am doing? Why aren’t more travellers experiencing a country and its culture in a deeper way by getting to understand the language?

This is one of the reasons why I started Lingo Mama, so I could share my learnings and insights with other language and travel keen people.

Why aren’t more people taking language learning holidays?

In my language learning travels in Nanjing, Shanghai, Saigon and Taipei – I have met many people who were surprised to hear of my reason for being in their city – to learn the language.

When I explained that I like to study the language and travel in their country they could understand that more, but it got me thinking.

Why aren’t more people doing what I am doing? Why aren’t more travellers experiencing a country and its culture in a deeper way by getting to understand the language?

This is one of the reasons why I started Lingo Mama, so I could share my learnings and insights with other language and travel keen people.

Why a language learning holiday?

If you are wanting a pure holiday experience then that’s fine. But if you are wanting a deeper experience and a connection with another place, then learning the language is one of the best ways to achieve this. Being able to converse in another language is a huge thrill and in many ways gives you access to a whole new world.

It can be even as simple as not having to rely on the English menu in a restaurant and knowing you are missing out on some of the best dishes on the ‘normal’ menu because they haven’t been translated.

During my language classes, we have been able to discuss topics about current culture, expectations of women and young people, cost of living, child care, commute times and office culture. All topics I doubt I would have got exposure to unless I was able to speak in-language with a local.

Politics and history are other topics which are often glossed over in English, particularly in countries where I have studied such as China, Taiwan and Viet Nam with more controversial pasts and political systems. If we have language skills these topics and more are open to us.

 

But why aren’t more people doing it?

Here are some of the common questions and thoughts I have received from people over the years…

I’m no good at languages!

Oh shame! If that was indeed true. You may have had a bad language learning experience at school, but don’t let that hold you back now. Everyone is capable of learning a second language! But you will need a motivation to keep you on track. Why do you want to learn a second language? Being immersed in the culture makes learning that language especially relevant and this helps enormously with motivation. Get the right support and tools, and you will be making headway in no time!

What if I am only travelling for two weeks?

Two weeks is the amount of time we recently spent in Taipei and previously in Shanghai – both studying Chinese.  Two weeks doesn’t sound like long, but you can achieve a lot in this time!

What if I am a complete beginner?

I was a complete beginner when I first arrived in Nanjing, China. I thought I could get by with a couple of phrases, but it was a whole new world navigating enrolment at the language university, housing and visas. Even the laundry room was a massive challenge! But I progressed and improved and the challenges I had in my first week of being in China, gradually became easier. What a sense of achievement and accomplishment I felt! I was hooked! Both on learning Chinese and just learning a new language. A natural high!

So yes, being a complete beginner is definitely no barrier to going on a language learning holiday. In fact, it may be the best way to start learning a new language. You will have access to the local, native teachers, and be immersed in an environment speaking your target language. With the bonus of delving deeper into the history, culture, food and way of life of the country you have chosen.

I’d rather sit by the beach with a good book and a cocktail

Yep, me too – sometimes. But I love how much more I get from a trip that involves language immersion. If you plan it well, you can have time for the beach as well.

My partner/kids/family or friends wouldn’t be interested in a language learning trip

If they’re not interested in joining you in your studies, well you’ve got a few options:

  1. Go alone!
  2. Enrol in studies by yourself and balance the rest of your time together
  3. Compromise and spend half the trip language learning and half exploring, relaxing or whatever else is up their alley.

 

Is there any point in learning a more obscure language?

There is a lot of emphasis placed on our education system on learning languages with a large number of speakers (English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Arabic etc). These languages are a great place to start.

But what if you are travelling to or interested in the culture of a smaller country with a small number of speakers of the language? Cambodia for example ( Khmer spoken by 16 million people) or Slovenia (Slovene spoken by approx 2.5 million) or Estonia (Estonian spoken by approx 1.1 million). Is it still worth learning these languages?  YES for sure!

I spent 6 months living in Tallinn, Estonia on a university exchange and I loved it! I only learnt a small amount of Estonian but it gave me a huge insight into the country and has spurred me on for future language study.

 

 

What language and in which country would you most like to do a language learning holiday?

 

Is there anything holding you back?

Don’t forget to sign up to get all my language learning travel tips!

 

Lingo Mama

xx

Melbourne, Australia

4 Comments

  • Alyson Long

    08.06.2018 at 03:26 Reply

    Interesting. So can you actually book a 2 week crash course if you are visiting a country briefly? Would you have to pick a big city?
    We’re off to Pakistan soon. I suspect that many will speak English, but some Urdu could be useful.
    I always become fluent in Menu in every country we visit…that’s important!
    Cheers 🙂

    • pennywilson

      08.06.2018 at 04:09 Reply

      I have done anywhere from a 7-day crash course to months at a time of study in-country. I love the short, but intense sessions because it really keeps me focused. Pakistan sounds amazing! Many smaller cities seem to offer some kind of language tuition even if it is pretty informal. Urdu would be fascinating to learn. Will you be travelling through or based there for a while? Menu, toilet, coffee and beer are always some of my first words! Keep us posted!

  • Ingrid T

    13.06.2018 at 05:52 Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more… I love combining language-learning with travel! For the last couple of years I’ve been focused on Spanish, but at some point I want to try Chinese, and I’ll definitely use your blog as a reference then!

    • pennywilson

      14.06.2018 at 04:47 Reply

      Thanks Ingrid! Definitely let me know if you have any questions when you start learning Chinese. I’d love to help. Have you been learning Spanish in South America or Spain? There are so many countries to study Spanish in! I’m not sure how I would choose!

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