Published 23rd March 2016

As teachers of English as a foreign language we are usually focussed on teaching our students English. However, if you are living in a foreign country, perhaps you want to try and learn the local language. Though it is not necessary to be able to speak the local language in order to teach English there, learning the language can help you integrate into the community and feel more at home.

So here are 3 ways to help you in your quest to learn the local language.

Take classes

Spend some time on the other side of the desk and become a student. Find a language school that offers classes and sign yourself up. Learning a language in a class setting gives structure to your learning. Plus, if you are paying for it you are more likely to attend!

Not only will it improve your language skills, though, it will also actually help your teaching. Being a student is not easy and if we haven’t been a student for some time we tend to forget that. Being a student again will give you insight into the difficulties of being a student and what works and doesn’t work in the classroom. This is especially helpful if you are teaching adults as you are directly mirroring their situation.

Some companies even offer free lessons to learn the local language!

Find a private tutor

If you’d rather not spend your free time in a classroom, find a local friend who would be happy to give you lessons or do a language exchange. You should find there are plenty of people who are willing to have a cup of coffee or a beer once or twice a week and chat to you in their language in exchange for chatting in English.

Though these people may not be qualified teachers, you can use what you discover with them as the basis for further study on your own. What’s more, you’ll be able to find out more about the local culture and perhaps even find a new group of friends who can show you around town.

Hiring a private tutor can be the fastest way to pick up the local language

Use it or lose it

You know all that advice you give to your students about learning English – using sticky-notes, talking to waiters, making friends? Well the same applies to you. Take advantage of being constantly surrounded by the language to expose yourself to it as much as possible and practise at every opportunity.

While not everyone is a natural language learner, just trying to pick up some of the local language will be appreciated by the local community. Try these tips and you may be surprised just how much of the language you pick up.