7 Tips Prepping For Your Language Program Abroad This Winter Break

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Winter break and the holidays are coming up and some of us are taking advantage of the time off by participating in a short-tem language immersion program abroad. The reasons vary and range from career development, learning vacation, pleasure, personal growth, and students often do it for extra language credits. One thing we all have in common is that we want to get the most out of our program and limited time abroad. Here are 7 prepping tips from study abroad veterans that will help you with this.

Winter break and the holidays are coming up and some of us are taking advantage of the time off by participating in a short-tem language immersion program abroad. The reasons vary and range from career development, learning vacation, pleasure, or personal growth. Students often do it for extra language credits.

One thing we all have in common is that we want to get the most out of our program and limited time abroad. Whether you know zero vocabulary or are an advanced speaker in a foreign language, a little preparation can help you get the most out of your immersion language program. Here are 7 tips from study abroad veterans. If you plan to study Spanish, learn Italian, or even become fluent in Japanese, this is advice worth paying attention to.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Learning another language is not easy for most of us. It takes time, practice and many mistakes. Go into a program with the goal of increasing your communication skills. Do not assume that you are going to perfect the language in so many weeks or months, it is too much pressure.

2. Bolster Your Vocabulary

If you are an absolute beginner, get a phrase book, preferably with a tape to accompany it. Learn some basics like: please, thank you, where is, how much, etc. Knowing these phrases and some hand gestures will get you by in a crunch. For intermediate or advanced speakers, we recommend learning as much vocabulary as possible before you go, including common idioms. Your language instruction will focus mainly on grammar, conversation and listening. The more vocabulary you have going into the program, the more ways you will get to apply the language.

All participants should bring a comprehensive dictionary, not only a pocket dictionary. Consider a guidebook that has a section listing local colloquialisms. This ensures that you will not travel to Ecuador or try to study in Guatemala with knowledge only of the Spanish commonly used in Madrid or Barcelona. Being prepared for local sayings can help you get the most out of your language classes or study abroad program.

3. Be Able To Conjugate Important Verbs

Learn to conjugate, COLD, those really important verbs like: to wish/want, to be able/can, to be and to go. These kinds of verbs conjugated in the present or past combined with infinitives instantly increase your ability to communicate. If you are an absolute beginner, focus on the I-form and you-form of the really important verbs.

4. Think The Language

Do not try and translate everything word for word. It does not work. You will drive yourself crazy looking for a word that may not exist in the target language. Recognize the fact that grammar rules will be different. Learn the differences along with the similarities and your understanding of HOW the language works will increase ten fold. Even if you are fluent in Spanish and have spent years studying in Barcelona, if you are going to attend an international language program in Paris you will need to familiarize yourself with a new thought process for the French language.

5. When In Doubt, Literature-ize

This means try to use so-called larger words. For example in Spanish, need does not translate but necessity turns into necesidad. Requisite becomes requisito and exigency blossoms into exigencia. Since these words sound very similar, you will be understood. There are examples like these in all languages.

6. Romance Languages Are Similar

If you know another romance language, you have a leg up if you learn Spanish or study Portuguese. You already know the concept of masculine and feminine words, accent marks, etc. Many words ending in Y like liberty will end with: -ad in Spanish, -e in French, -ade in Portuguese or -a in Italian. Similarly, words ending in -ion in English often sound alike, and mean the same thing in Spanish.

Learning Chinese or studying Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, or Thai can present unique challenges, as the words are so different from what most of us are used to hearing. More time may be necessary to learn these languages, and more pre-trip preparation can be immensely helpful. Regardless of the difficulty level of the language, knowing two or more languages makes any international study program easier, and the benefits of learning an uncommon tongue can far outweigh the drawbacks.

7. Stay Open Minded

The best tool for learning a language at any level is a good attitude. Understanding the culture helps with language acquisition. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, they are great to learn from and can be funny too! A sense of humor really helps.

Now go on, have a successful language immersion experience and learn as much as you can during your holiday or winter break.

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For more information about international language programs, immersion, or study abroad, contact Dorioara Pinku or visit http://www.amerispan.com/

About AmeriSpan:

A US-based, International-Education Company that provides a wide range of experiences in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East. 25,000 people of all ages have participated with AmeriSpan. Language Immersion Programs; Volunteer & Internship placements; Teen options & International Summer Camps; Academic Study Abroad; Specialized programs combining language with dance, art, culture, cooking, sports, business, medicine, education, and social work.

Contact:

Dorioara Pinku

AmeriSpan

215-751-1100 ext 305

http://www.amerispan.com

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