To live in another country is to live outside your comfort zone, which can be exciting, nerve-wracking, and extremely overwhelming. When I first moved to Spain, I tried to look at every new challenge as a learning experience rather than an obstacle. By changing my perspective, this allowed me to view the cultural differences as an opportunity to expand my outlook and understanding of the world.
One of the most obvious and prominent changes I’ve faced has been the language barrier. Before moving, my level of Spanish was decent but far from fluent. I had taken Spanish language classes throughout my previous education but never got the chance to use it much outside of school. After moving, I quickly learned the best way to maintain and better my level of Spanish.
I would confidently say reading is one of the best ways to improve your vocabulary in any language. Even in English, my native language, I still manage to learn new words from every book I read. I think it is one of the most clear ways to see and understand how certain words are used together. At first, it might seem time-consuming and more like homework than a way to relax, but within a couple chapters your brain will adapt and you will be amazed at how much you can retain.
Listening and understanding are two of the most important elements when learning a new language and I think the best way to practice this is by creating a music playlist or listening to podcasts. Spanish music a fun way to understand more about Spanish lifestyle and culture while simultaneously improving your Spanish language skills.
Another entertaining yet educative way to help you overcome a language barrier is by watching movies or television series in Spanish. Even if your favorite series is not available with Spanish audio, you can always apply Spanish subtitles and read along. I found that watching a movie or show you have seen before is the most comfortable way to transition between the two languages.
Writing is perfect way to practice and apply what you have learned without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. I would recommend writing in a journal or blog so you can look back at previous entries and recognize how far you have come. For me, this is a good source of encouragement and motivates me to keep learning.
Lastly, I think speaking is the most important and useful skill to practice when learning a new language. Although it can be intimidating and difficult, talking is the most effective way to practice pronunciation and articulation. In the beginning, I would recommend chatting with a friend, or someone you are comfortable with, and as you become more relaxed try to insist on conversing with a native speaker.
All in all, try to practice every day but don’t stress yourself out. Keep in mind that the more work you put towards learning a language, the easier it’ s going to get. Just remember to be patient with yourself; you won’t become fluent over night.