Learning a foreign language can be a daunting task, especially when throwing in the mix of moving to an unfamiliar place with a whole new culture. However, it is also one of the most rewarding decisions that you could make, and study abroad is the perfect way to step out of your comfort zone and embrace a new language on a whole other level. So, here are the top four tips and tricks that I found to help me through the journey of improving my Spanish fluency while living in Seville, Spain.
1. Listen to music in the language
This is definitely one of the most fun and easy ways, in my opinion, to learn a foreign language. Create a playlist with some of the most popular songs in the target language, and listen to them on repeat. Not only will this help you expand your vocabulary, but you will also become more adapted to the city as you start to notice the same songs being played when you’re out in the city.
2. Explore the city alone
While it is obviously more comfortable to go out to eat or to the store with your fellow English-speaking friends, make an effort to complete some of your daily tasks alone so as not to rely on the comfort of others when you encounter the language barrier. Stop by a local cafe before class some mornings and practice ordering in the native language. You will feel much more independent and capable of navigating the city on your own.
3. Be social
Interact with natives. Make friends with the locals. Connect with local news and entertainment accounts on social media. Don’t be afraid to make conversation in all of your outings. Not only does this help your language acquisition skills, but you will also become much more comfortable in the city and more connected with the local culture. And, who knows -- you may end up developing lifelong friendships with some of the natives.
4. Take advantage of every moment
Live in a constant awareness of your surroundings, embracing every opportunity that you have to listen to the language. Whether you’re on your daily commute to class, or making a trip to the supermarket, listen to the conversations going on around you. Read all of the signs that you pass on your way. Take time to stop, be still, and really live in and embrace the little moments.
Regardless of your study abroad location, making an effort to learn the native language is the best way to embrace the local culture and become more comfortable in your new city so that you can enjoy your entire study abroad experience to its full potential!
Caroline Thompson is the Spring 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Mississippi.