Should You Learn The Language When Moving Abroad?

Quite often, the spontaneous answer to the question if expats should learn the language when moving abroad is “no” - at least when they are thinking about actual necessity. In today’s globalised world, if you aren't too far from civilization, you can generally get by with English. And Google Translate & Co are never far away either.

A second factor that tends to minimize the need to learn the language when moving abroad is the tendency of expats to always stick together. This is a natural survival mechanism whenever we find ourselves in a foreign territory. Our scary new surroundings make us crave something familiar, something we have in common with others.

Usually, expats from the same or a neighbouring home country will find and support each other sooner or later. So why should you learn the language when moving abroad then? Well, here are some excellent reasons.

Learning The Language Gives You More Independence. 

Being able to speak the local language as an expat will make you more independent when moving abroad. It starts with daily life things like buying food or ordering in a restaurant. There are so many expats out there who will order their food with a “point and hope for the best” approach. However, if you learn the language when moving abroad, you will be able to get the food you want to enjoy. Chances are that you won’t be overcharged by local market vendors either if you speak the local language!

And just think about going by public transport! Without understanding the local language, it’s way harder to find the bus stop. Or wait on the right side of the train track. Or tell the taxi driver where you would like to go and which way to take. Some stations, timetables or maps may have English translations if you’re in a big city. But the further you are away from the capital, the fewer words in English you are likely to see. And seeing nothing but random squiggles will lead to issues, without a doubt.

All in all, if you want to move around confidently and independently from day one, learn the language when moving abroad. 

Knowing The Local Language Allows You To Communicate With Locals.

Well, we mentioned the taxi driver already. Even the simplest things are hard to communicate when you don’t speak the local language at least a bit. And then there are the many more challenging tasks in expat life, like phoning an emergency plumber, that will quickly feel like a lost cause. Of course, you might not be able to describe fluently how the water is coming through the ceiling. But when you genuinely try to speak in their native language, most people will be more than happy to assist you.

learn the language when moving abroad to speak with locals

And this is the more important point here. By opening a conversation in the local language instead of asking “Do you speak English?”, locals will try to help you as much as possible. This is also because they will trust you more. And with time, you will have learned a lot in these many totally different situations and will get better and better at speaking the local language.

However, these ordinary life conversations are only the beginning. Most locals generally enjoy helping expats learn the language when moving abroad. They are more likely to open up to you, share their insider knowledge, and show you around their favourite places.

And for you, it’s a great way to bond and build deeper relationships. The more you communicate with the locals, the more you learn about your host country too. You will meet more and more new people, maybe find a new business partner at a party or a true friend at a local charity event.

Once you learn the language when moving abroad, you can start proper networking. There are hundreds of new opportunities waiting for you as an expat living and working abroad.

Learn The Language When Moving Abroad And You Live The Real Life.

Speaking the local language shows you care about the people and their culture. And that is why they will care more about you too. Learning the language when moving abroad makes you not just another tourist coming along to take the perfect Instagram picture of their town’s cathedral. You are with the locals now.

You are no longer the “stranger” because you can get to know each other. And you yourself will no longer view them as “the locals” either. To learn the language when moving abroad is key if you want to go beyond the superficial. This is what changes you from being a visitor to being a local resident.

Many expats never cross that line and spend their years abroad within the English-speaking expat community. But we think that living the real life is more than that. A foreign language is like wearing glasses that allow you to see your new surroundings much clearer. Learn the language when moving abroad and live the real life.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re not fluent yet or got a strong accent. There are so many milestones when learning a language, but fluency or perfect grammar are not the most important ones. Communicating with others is what will make you happy as an expat abroad!

Speaking The Local Language Makes Your Expat Assignment A Success Story.

Interestingly enough, this will also make your employer happy. According to global mobility research, to learn the language when moving abroad is a prerequisite for the success of an expat assignment. Language skills improve not only an expat’s proficiency in communicating with business partners but also with the local team. This in turn increases employees’ productivity because they can now comfortably communicate with their foreign manager.

Eventually, the requirement to learn the language when moving abroad affects the fulfillment of a company’s goals concerning the success of an expat’s assignment.

learn the language when moving abroad for successful assignment

Learn The Language When Moving Abroad To Increase Your Longterm Employability In International Business.

Research shows that multiple benefits accrue to humans’ brains when they learn a new language. As well as improving memory, it enhances creativity and problem-solving skills. And finally, in this increasingly globalised business world, the more languages you speak, the more you dive deep into different cultures, the more employable you will be in the future.

Stand out to potential employers because you have lived the real life abroad, which shows in the language skills you can add to your resume.

Language Learning Could Be Your Greatest Journey.

Lots of great reasons to learn the language when moving abroad, right? But if you think that learning a new language will be your biggest personal challenge ever, then look for a language learning program that matches your cognitive learning style. It hasn’t to be the “study with a textbook” way anymore.

Choose a more communicative and student-centered approach that meets your individual interests and strengths. Here at Talk@Work we offer remote language learning for expats that is not only extremely flexible but also tailored to each of our expats individual needs. And more importantly, with lots of socialising and activities you can easily meet like-minded native speakers to put what you have learned into practise once you have arrived in your new country.

Learning a new language shouldn’t be a terrifying flashback of your school days, but the most fun and rewarding experience.

Learn The Language When Moving Abroad To Make The Most Of This Special Time.

So grab the opportunity to learn the language when moving abroad. You will gain so much more than just the ability to speak or help yourself in challenging situations. People’s culture and way of life are intimately wrapped in the language you are learning. You frequently gain a new friend or two along the way, and you are growing into the local community, which makes life as an expat so much more fulfilling.

Learning the language when moving abroad will allow you to flourish in your new home abroad. 

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