Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments – Language Tips for Expats
According to a recent survey that was carried out by Rosetta Stone, approximately three-fifths of global mobility experts believe that learning the local language is crucial to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, if an expat employee is able to communicate with the local business team and partners, then it definitely helps when building the bridge between local business leaders, expats, and the head office. In this article, we will discuss how more easily speak or learn your host country’s language as an expat. This may help you have a more successful and happy expat assignment.
Most Spoken Languages in the World
Out of the most popular languages, Chinese Mandarin is often seen as the most important language for expat employees, especially if residing in China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. Other popular languages including Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian and Japanese. Spanish is the primary language of Central America and South America, not to mention Cuba and parts of the U.S.. French is also widely spoken in varies countries, including Canada, Belgium, Haiti, etc. Arabic is mostly spoken in the Middle East and Egypt. It is the sixth official language of the United Nations. For expatriates planning to live and work abroad, it is recommended to have a working knowledge of your destination’s foreign language. Learning the local language will help you have a much better chance to start a conversation with local people, employees and better integrate. It can definitely also advance your career in your new assignment country.
How to Learn a Foreign Language
- Join a language learning group or attending a course: There are usually many language learning groups available in major cities in popular expat destination countries. Try to find a local colleague or friend who would be willing to help you learn the language. If you can not find anyone who speaks the language or there are no language learning groups, try to apply and attend a language learning course. Many language learning schools provide modern language teaching techniques and updated learning materials in a small class size. Some of them even offer expat students to take part in the local cultural activities. For busy expats, taking private language lessons are more suitable than taking group lessons. Private language lessons are flexible, with options on the certain fields, such as business communication. Another popular option would be taking an online language learning course. It is flexible and location independent.
- Employer-Sponsored: It is recommended that the expat employer provide some language courses both before and during the expat assignment. Even just learning a few words and phrases can help your expat employees better integrate into their new surroundings.
- Self-studying: Some expats will try to learn a new language themselves through spending a couple of hours each week and using a dictionary to enlarge your vocabulary at any time during the day. According to scientific research, language learning is based on repetition. If you spend some time every day to study the foreign language, you are likely to learn it well within a few months. A dictionary is a very useful tool for you to consult when you are finding the necessary words. Expats can use either an actual dictionary or a translator app. There are also lots of great online courses, such as ones offered by Babel and Rosetta Stone.
- Immerse yourself in the language: Being immersed in a foreign language means that you are interacting, listening and speaking in the language daily. There are many conversation examples and lessons on Youtube and live stream radio on websites. And these are all free to access. Reading the local language can be very difficult for expats, but try to start from local magazines or newspapers, read a short article at the beginning, look up any words that you don’t understand. This will allow you to recognize commonly used words and phrases.
- Embrace making mistakes: The best way to learn a new language is practicing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Focus on the practicing process other than on perfection. The more you speak, the better chance you will get to the ideal level.
- Learn important vocabulary: One of the most important things about learning a new language is vocabulary. Even if you don’t understand a whole paragraph or a sentence, knowledge about some keywords will help you to understand the general meaning of a conversation. It is better for expats to focus on learning the most common words, and figure out which category of vocabulary is most relevant to you. Another important vocabulary is about health care. In case there is a medical emergency, you are able to talk about your medical condition to medical staff.
- Don’t Forget About Dependents: If you are an expat with a partner or children living abroad, it is also critical to assist them in their new language endeavors. Check if the local school will provide lessons in the local language and suggest that your spouse enrolls in some courses as well.
Don’t Forget Your International Health Insurance
Learning a new language and living abroad is a wonderful experience within the reach of you and your family. That new language will assit you should you require medical care from a facility or doctor who doesn’t speak your language. A great medical plan will also provide medical insurance support in all the major languages. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world who are about to move abroad or already there. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan – we are your advocate. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.