Are you about to embark on a mission to work in a country where you cannot speak the language? You may find these tips useful.  Mostly, I have developed this list with the German language in mind, but you will find them helpful for a lot of other languages too.  I am by no means an expert, but here are a few ideas I have come across so far:

  • Take an intensive beginners course to get your started.  Make sure you buy the textbooks and do your homework every day!
  • Practice on Duolingo (a nifty app that will have you speaking like siri, but in the language of your choice).
  • Check out Quizlet (another great learning app with games and activities).
  • Use a good translating app, such as Pons.  Google Translate doesn’t always cut the mustard!
  • Invest in three different coloured post it notes and use a colour to represent each gender (blue for masculine words, pink for feminine words and yellow for neutral words).  Then stick these words onto the household items they belong to, so you see them and practice them every day.
  • Check out beginner tutorials on Youtube.
  • Read about the country and get excited!
  • Immerse yourself in the culture – obviously visiting Germany is the best way to do that.  Book that flight!
  • Play board games and card games with locals.  You will repeat the same kinds of phrases over and over again.
  • Practice speaking with beginners and native speakers.
  • Read the road signs.
  • Listen to the announcements on the trains.
  • Listen to the German radio.
  • Read newspapers, books and comics in the new language.
  • Watch German movies with English subtitles, or English movies with German subtitles.
  • Make lists, tables and charts with all your new vocabulary.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – it takes a long time but you understand more than you realise!


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