Why studying abroad is the best way to learn a new language

If you’ve ever thought about learning a foreign language or exploring a new country, you should probably read this.

Why studying abroad is the best way to learn a new language
Photo: ESL

They say that in today’s globalized world, borders matter less than they used to. And while it may be easier to travel from one country to another, there’s no getting around the fact that not everyone speaks the same language.

Of course, you may be able to get by with English in a lot of places, but as anyone who’s spent time abroad will tell you, knowing the local language can transform the experience.

And while taking classes close to home or spending time with the latest language-learning app may help you pick up the basics, but you simply can’t beat learning a language where it’s spoken in the streets, on the radio, and everywhere around you.

Not convinced? Here are six reasons you really should choose to learn the language abroad.

You get to live abroad

OK, we can all admit that setting up life in a new place isn’t always easy – but it’s rewarding in so many different ways – especially if you choose to use that time abroad to learn a new language.

Learn more about studying a foreign language abroad

Experiencing a new culture and country first-hand opens the door to host of new experiences, expanding your comfort zone, which in turn can do wonders for your confidence.

Whereas before the thought of boarding a plane solo to an unfamiliar place, or trying to navigate a new city may have had you sweating, following a stint abroad, tackling such unknowns is a breeze.

You can turn a detour into a fast track

Lots of young graduates look to take a gap year after university before starting their careers. The reasons can be many – exploring, soul search, delaying the inevitability of that 9-5 life.

But choosing to study a foreign language abroad suddenly transforms that gap year from what cynical family members might consider a detour into a rewarding, relevant, and downright desirable capstone that helps accelerate your life and career.

Learn a new language during your gap year with ESL

We’re not saying you can’t spend time on the beach or at the bar, but conversing about the weather or ordering drinks in a foreign language – coupled with some actual time in class – makes for a year that is far from a gap on your CV; rather, it becomes an asset.

You can boost your employability

Let’s take that a step farther. It’s no secret living abroad and studying a foreign language entails plenty of fun. But the experience can really take your career in all sorts of new directions. International connections are important to an increasing number of companies of all shapes and sizes.

Having language skills and direct experience in the country of a new client could be the deciding factor between a company hiring you rather than your classmate you never left home – even if he or she had better grades.

You get smarter

Learning a new language is like exercise for the brain. It takes effort, but the reward is brain that’s more adaptable and able to learn new things faster. Learning a second language also improves your memory and helps fend off dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Grappling with a foreign language can also give you new insights into your mother tongue. From grammar to idiomatic phrases – understanding how and why certain words are strung together in certain ways in another language gets you thinking about why things work they do in our own language. And all of that can help make you a better communicator altogether.

You can amaze others

Let’s face it – it’s hard not to be somewhat impressed when you hear someone carry on a conversation in what may sound like gibberish. So why not be the one that gets others jaws to drop when you strike up a conversation with a local while on holiday.

And who doesn’t get a little kick from showing off to friends and family?

It’s by far the best way to learn

Learning and communicating in the language of a foreign country while living there is without doubt the best way of learning simply because, well – you never stop learning. Everywhere you turn you’re faced with opportunities to hear, read, and use your new language – basically, your entire environment because your classroom.

There’s also the added bonus of getting to experience the language “in real life” as opposed to trying to make it come alive from the pages of a book back in your hometown. And there’s certainly no app that can replicate that.

By now, the choice should be clear – the time to study a foreign language abroad is now. And doing so is easy and cost-effective with ESL – Language studies abroad.

ESL offers programmes in 23 languages at 250 destinations around the world. And with more than two decades of experience, ESL delivers language learning opportunities for everyone who’s ever dreamed studying a new language abroad.

Click here to find out which ESL programme is right for you

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by ESL.


Italian word of the day: ‘Inchiodare’

You'll nail this word in no time.

Italian word of the day: 'Inchiodare'

What do a carpenter, a detective, and a bank robber screeching to a halt in their getaway car all have in common?

In English, not much – but in Italian, they could all be said to inchiodare (eenk-ee-ohd-AHR-eh) in the course of their professional activities.

In its simplest form, inchiodare simply means ‘to nail’ (chiodo, ‘kee-OH-do’, is a nail) – a picture to a wall, or a leg to a table.

Ha trovato questo cartello inchiodato alla sua porta.
She found this notice nailed to her door.

Inchioderò la mensola al muro più tardi.
I’ll nail the shelf to the wall later.

But like ‘to nail’, inchiodare has more than one definition.

You can use it to describe someone or something being ‘pinned’ in place, without actually having been literally nailed there.

Mi ha inchiodato al muro.
He pinned me to the wall.

La mia gamba è inchiodata al terreno.
My leg is pinned to the ground.

You can be metaphorically inchiodato to a place in the sense of being stuck there, tied down, or trapped.

Dovrei essere in vacanza e invece sono inchiodata alla mia scrivenia.
I should be on holiday and instead I’m stuck at my desk.

Don'T Forger You'Re Here Forever GIF - The Simpsons Mr Burns Youre Here GIFs

Siamo inchiodati a questa scuola per altri tre anni.
We’re stuck at this school for another three years.

Sono stati inchiodati dal fuoco di armi.
They were trapped by gunfire.

Just like in English, you can inchiodare (‘nail’) someone in the sense of proving their guilt.

Chiunque sia stato, ha lasciato tracce di DNA che lo inchioderanno.
Whoever it was, they left traces of DNA that will take them down.

Ti inchioderò per questo omicidio.
I’m going to nail you for this murder.

Thomas Sadoski Tommy GIF by CBS

Senza la pistola non lo inchioderemo, perché non abbiamo altre prove.
Without the gun we’re not going to get him, because we have no other proof.

For reasons that are less clear, the word can also mean to slam on the brakes in a car.

Ha inchiodato e ha afferrato la pistola quando ha visto la volante bloccando la strada.
He slammed on the brakes and grabbed the gun when he saw the police car blocking the road.

Hanno inchiodato la macchina a pochi passi da noi.
They screeched to a halt in the car just a few feet away from us.

Those last two definitions mean that you’re very likely to encounter the word when watching mystery shows or listening to true crime podcasts. Look out for it the next time you watch a detective drama.

In the meantime, have a think about what (or who) you can inchiodare this week.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.