Alternative Vacation Ideas - Top 8 Reasons Why Your Next Vacation Should Include a Language Class
Looking for something different to do on your next vacation? Consider taking a language class while abroad. If you have ever dreamed of speaking a foreign language even just a little bit, you won’t regret taking a language class abroad. I recently took a language course in Florence and loved it! Keep reading for my top reasons why your next trip to a foreign country should include a language course.
While a one or two week holiday is unlikely to take you from beginner to fluent, a language class abroad will improve your skills much more quickly than you would at home. Not only do you get to practice with native speakers during your lessons, but you also have the opportunity to immediately practice outside of class. For those that learn by doing, and learning a language does require a fair bit of hands-on practice, this is an opportunity that cannot be missed.
Another benefit of having to learn the language where it is spoken is improved word choice. Languages are fluid, changing quickly with new slang being added and phrases being retired. When learning with speakers who use the language every day you can be confident that you will learn the most up to date way to phrase things, rather than the textbook way from 20 years ago that makes you sound like a foreigner.
Gain amazing local recommendations:
When taking a language course abroad, you are joining a group of people exploring the country just like you. You can take advantage of your fellow classmates’ experiences to learn of new adventures to go on, or what activities might not be worth the effort. From where to go to dinner, to which cafe serves the best coffee, you are guaranteed up to date information, unlike travel sites are review websites where the information can be years old. I found my favorite wine store in Florence thanks to a recommendation from a classmate.
Get discounts on local activities:
Depending on the program you enroll in, group activities may be offered. My language school in Florence offered tours several times a week, usually at a discounted price than what you would pay going by yourself. Additionally, they had guides in English and Italian, so you don’t have to worry about the level of your Italian comprehension to benefit from the experience.
Great atmosphere for learning
We all feel more excited and open to new things on holiday. Taking a language class while on holiday will make you more motivated to learn since you can step out of class and put your skills to use. Instead of trying to find time to learn in your already busy day, the language lesson is only one of the many exciting things you get to do that day. Plus it’s nice to have a little structure during your day on holiday, or maybe that’s just me.
Make new friends:
This may seem fairly obvious since you'll be spending a significant amount of time with your classmates, but it is a benefit worth noting. Foreign language courses abroad are a great way to meet a diverse group of people who share a goal with you but not necessarily your first language. It's a unique experience to learn about someone through a language that you are still learning.
Learn about other cultures:
My language class in Florence had only had 10 students, yet we ranged in age from 17-70 years. Additionally, only two people shared a home country. This incredible diversity really livened up the discussions since everyone had a different perspective to offer. A favorite memory of my language course in Florence was our discussion on hand gestures. As you may be aware, Italians talk with their hands as much as their mouths. We had great fun practicing the Italian gestures for phrases but also learned about common gestures for my classmates' countries. One of my classmates was a 70-year-old grandmother from Bulgaria who was now living in France that was usually one of the quieter members of the class. When the professor asked for examples of unusual gestures in our countries, she was eager to share that in Bulgaria, nodding your head up and down actually means no instead of yes. When she immigrated to France this was rather problematic for her, since her command of French was poor and her nods were interpreted as the opposite meaning.
Improve your brain:
Learning a different language is challenging for your brain. It requires a lot of time and effort but has benefits outside of just your new language skills. Learning languages have been shown to improve not only analytical skills but also creativity. And don’t think you can use age as an excuse to not learn a new language, as these benefits have been shown to be true regardless of age.
An immersion language course forces you to practice your language skills out loud. This intense study with positive feedback allows you to immediately feel the progress you are making and increase your confidence in your abilities. And if you can accomplish something as challenging as speaking a new language, that confidence is sure to spill over to other areas of your life.