Réussir son séjour linguistique en anglais
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Hello Cher lecteur!
The sun is shining, the weather is hot, summer's almost here! [I am writing this on a hot June day.] I know a lot of you will use their spare time to go abroad and practice their English, soon enough. As such, I thought it would be best to cover this topic today! Here are some tips to have a GREAT language experience when traveling, be it for a few weeks or for several months. A lot of it is drawn from my own experience, especially from my recent trip learning Hungarian in Budapest.
1. Save on plane tickets
It does not take a lot of money to travel and have a good time. If you book early, you can save a lot. Consider booking AT LEAST TWO MONTHS in advance (you can see a big difference between booking, for example, 2 months in advance and 2.5 months in advance). I highly recommend this website to find the cheapest ticket: www.jetcost.com
2. Set things up to you can be sure to meet a lot of people!
The most common error people make when traveling to practice a language is not setting things up in a way that will force them to practice. Think about it... Sometimes, you want to be forced to do things. If you have no other option but to speak English, you will be sure to practice and learn a lot. As simple as it sounds, not everyone does it and people - especially French people - often spend time abroad almost ONLY speaking their native language.
Those days, with help from the Internet, it is dead easy to meet native speakers!
First check out hostels. Hostels are full of people from 18 to 35. It is a cheap, social way to travel. You may be worried about safety and cleanliness -- and so was I for years. Luckily enough, there is a great website now to review hostels and only stay at great places. Visit www.hostelworld.com/
. To make sure you select a clean and friendly hostel, only book one that has at least 100 reviews and a 95% rating.
It is a great way to meet a lot of people quickly and easily. You can be sure you will party AND practice your English, learning tons along the way. As for the security, I am not worried and never, nor my friends, ever had any issues using the above method. What is more, they always have lockers where you can put your stuff and secure it using a padlock. Still be careful of course but, simply said, good hostels are as safe, if not safer, than hotels.
3. Native speakers... where?
I highly recommend practicing with native speakers almost exclusively as, this way, you can be confident they speak "real" English. It does not mean they will speak perfect English but, at least, you can be sure they will use typical expressions
, which is not always the case with non-native speakers.
For those reasons, traveling to the UK, USA or Australia makes a lot of sense. However, these destinations are usually among the most expensive ones... So what can you do if you are under a tight budget? A nice way to go about it is, again, to stay in hostels. Why? Hostels in Central Europe, for example, are usually packed with American, British and Australian people. Most of the staff is usually from one of those countries. It may not always be the most enriching way, culturally, to visit a country but you can be sure you will practice good English and meet a lot of native English speakers. Actually, doing so, one could easily spend months speaking English exclusively if he wanted and meet hundreds of native speakers.
4. Enjoy traveling... One couch at a time!
A really great website that is gaining in popularity is CouchSurfing. Couch what? CouchSurfing! As the name implies, the idea behind it is to "surf" from one couch to the next. Basically: people sign up to the website and offer their couch or an extra bed for people to stay at their place, when traveling. It is a great way to meet locals when traveling and foreigners when hosting. It is all free and very friendly.
Here is their website: www.couchsurfing.org/
You can easily find people who can host you (FOR FREE) and it lets you do the same from the comfort in your own home. So if you want to visit native speakers or have native speakers visit you, whatever is most convenient to you right now, it is REALLY easy to do so. As reflected by the funny name, there need not be a lot of room to host or be hosted. I do know a lot of people who ended up having their own private room when couchsurfing though. All in all, it is an AWESOME way to travel.
Important! You may also use the website to contact people in a given city and meet for coffee to practice English. It is great to set up a language exchange. Actually, it does not even have to be an exchange. For example, you may very well meet with people who are happy to meet French people but do not necessarily speak or learn French. Basically, this is an easy and effortless way to meet people and/or travel.
5. Avoid French people like the plague!!...
French people are everywhere. In every big city, you can be sure you will end up hearing and seeing Frenchies. This is really
bad for your English if you give in and meet with them! As such, whenever you see French people, simply avoid them like the plague.
It may sound mean or rude but it is quite simply a requirement to have a fulfilling time abroad. When you travel to learn a language, you have roughly two options:
- Loneliness. You are in a foreign country, you do not know anyone. You may start to feel lonely or homesick... What happens after that is that, whenever you hear French people, you will be very happy to speak in a language you have no issue understanding and you will end up making a lot of French friends. It is really bad for your English.
- Excitement. You are in a foreign country, you do not know anyone, and you want to live a great adventure! You want to meet with native speakers and spend a lot of time just having a GREAT time, in English, having fun and improving your language skills. With this kind of attitude, meeting people is easy, you will speak so much and feel so enthusiastic about your trip and life that you will never feel homesick. Enthusiasm is contagious. It is one of the best ways to enjoy a trip abroad!
It is quite natural to feel happy hearing your native language after weeks only speaking a foreign one. However, control yourself and just make sure you do not start to hang out and make friends with French people. I know it's tempting to do so. You will most likely meet some cool French people during your trip -- and that's where the danger lies, you will want to hang out with people you like! ...But please, if they are French, simply do not see them again during the trip. Remember, you are traveling to improve your English. It's okay to exchange contact information but you should focus on making friends with people who speak the language you want to practice. There will be enough time to make more French friends later, do not worry!
That's it for today. I hope you have a GREAT time traveling and improving your English, Cher lecteur, and I will speak again with you in a few days. Take care!
Best regards -