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.


Sweating like a chicken: 18 Spanish phrases to complain about the heat like a true Spaniard

The scorching temperatures that Spain usually gets during the summer months and sometimes earlier mean Spaniards are well equipped with a colourful variety of expressions to complain about the heat.

Sweating like a chicken: 18 Spanish phrases to complain about the heat like a true Spaniard
Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal 'sweating like a chicken'; read on to find out more. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

¡Qué calor hace! – It’s really hot! The most straightforward and generic way of making it known that you are indeed very hot.

¡Cómo ataca Lorenzo! – What an attack by Lorenzo! In Spain the sun is traditionally referred to as Lorenzo and the moon as Catalina. So if Lorenzo is ‘attacking’ you, it’s the sun’s rays that you find particularly punishing. 

¡Hace un calor de perros! What a dog day afternoon! It’s interesting that English has a similar expression to speak about hot summer afternoons and the feelings of lethargy it provokes, although in Spanish it can be used at all times of the day.  You can also say hace un frío de perros (it’s bitter cold).

spanish expressions hot weatherPhoto: Adrian Smalley/Flickr

¡Cómo pega! – It really hits you! Here’s a way of saying that it’s scorching hot and that you find the sun’s rays so intense, it’s as if they were giving you a beating.

¡Qué horno! – It’s like an oven out there! There are many places in Spain’s interior where it will feel like you’re being baked alive during the suffocating summer months. No wonder Spaniards usually head en masse to the coast to cool down in the sea. 

¡Me aso! – I’m roasting! Here’s another way of describing how it feels like you’re being cooked alive.

spanish language expressions heatPhoto: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

¡Me achicharro! – I’m being burnt to a crisp! And here’s an expression to say that you’re now overcooked. 

¡Hace un calor de la ostia/de cojones/del carajo! It’s sacramental bread hot, balls’ hot or f*cking hot! Because profanity is part and parcel of most daily speech in Spain and cojones and ostias are a great way of spicing up your language, we thought we’d throw in these extra ones for when you want to give the heat a piece of your mind. 

Estoy sudando como un pollo/un cerdo OR estoy sudando tinta – I’m sweating like a chicken/pig OR I’m sweating ink. Here are three fantastic Spanish expressions to let people know that your armpits currently have the sprinklers on due to the insane heat.

spanish language expressions heatPhoto: Jaime Reina/AFP

¡Hace un sol de justicia!: It’s punishingly sunny! This is of course a literal translation (and a loose one at that), but this expression is used to denote that the sun’s intensity is capable of justiciar, which in Spanish can mean to punish, bringing to justice or put to death. 

¡Hace tanto calor que hasta las ranas van con cantimplora! It’s so hot that even the frogs carry water bottles! If you use this brilliant metaphor with a native Spanish speaker, they’re likely to be very impressed. They may just not show it if they’re in the process of melting to the pavement due to the heat.

spanish expressions hot weatherPhoto: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

¡Menudo bochorno! It’s stifling! Use this expression to describe hot and humid weather that’s so muggy you’ve practically been glued to your sofa.

Hace un calor que se puede freír un huevo en la calle – It’s so hot you can fry an egg in the street! This has been literally tried and tested in cities such as Seville and Madrid, where the mercury hitting 40 C during the summer is a given year in year out.

Nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno – Nine months of winter, three months of hell. Here’s a Spanish weather proverb for our readers living in Spain’s interior, which translates as ‘nine months of winter, 3 months of hell’. Technically it refers to the harsh differences in climate in Spain’s Castille regions, but if your part of Spain has bitter cold winters and scorching hot summers, this saying is definitely suited to you.