As you’re reaching the final stages of summer and wondering what exactly you’ve been up to, it might be a good idea to brush up your language skills, pre-year abroad or as you’re going back to uni. Where to start? Work or study? Films or music? Here are a few pointers as to get your linguistic juices flowing...
1. Practise abroad
You might only have a few days left, but it’s a good idea to check out cheap flight deals and packages to go abroad and rub shoulders with the locals. Scan flights and hotels thanks to lastminute.com and get yourself abroad for a few days. You might decide to make it a cultural trip, or better still, if time’s on your side, why not get a short-term job whilst you’re out there. Chances are there’ll be a September festival, end-of-summer crop or trendy bar willing to take you on.
2. Back on home soil
If you can’t afford to go off abroad, there’s loads you can do back home. If you live in a big city, you should research language institutes in your area (e.g. The French Institute, London) and see what they’ve got on offer. Most allow you to attend events, for a small fee, and use their resources (library, posts board and cinema). You could also join and enjoy the benefits of being a member all year round. Arthouse cinemas in your area may also offer foreign films, so it’s a good idea to check what’s on. Reading foreign newspapers, books and magazines will help you improve your language, whilst giving you the chance to read up on your interests.
3. Be creative
Learning a new skill abroad or at home, but in another language, might be right up your street. GoLearnTo offers just that - cook in Seville, take brilliant photos in Essaouïra, learn German around beautiful lakes... The choice is yours! You could also find out about classes abroad for locals (cooking, drawing, sport, jewellery-making, calligraphy, business studies, painting, pizza-making... the list is endless!) and join in as the only foreign student - the combination of wanting to know what exactly you're cooking and not wanting to admit to your limited vocab might be just what you need in your quest for fluency! Here are some creative classes and workshops in Paris, for example. Put up an ad to meet people with the same interests as you, offering to share your knowledge and language for the same in return! Facebook and Twitter are great sites to advertise your interests, as you can post, become a fan of and follow your favourite communities and people, all at the click of a button!
4. Meetups (online and offline)
Finding foreign people where you live or study may not be as hard as you think. Most exchange students arrive in the summer months to get settled in and you might be just the person they’re dying to meet! Post something on your uni board, email the Erasmus society and get in the Erasmust groove. Alternatively, you could try sites like Couchsurfing.org, SharedTalk and LiveMocha; all offer language exchange partners, grouped by age, country and interests. If you’re looking to get your writing skills up to scratch, there’s also a host of websites offering penpals across the globe, such as InterPenpals and MyLanguageExchange.