I fell into the mistake that so many do when I moved to a country that speaks a different language, and that was fool myself into thinking that the ability to order a beer or ask directions would get me by. Living in Mexico City was far harder than I believed and that is because there is nowhere near as much English spoken here as you may believe. I am eternally grateful to my good friend Javier who helped me through this situation, and I wanted to offer you some advice if you already live or are planning to move to a country where they speak another language.
I met Javier Burillo through a Facebook group for language learners, he was looking to increase his English ability and I of course was trying to learn more than 20 words of Spanish. This is a wonderful way of learning a language because you are both in it for each other, it is very much a mutually beneficial relationship. Another reason why this is great is because it costs neither of you anything, enabling you to essentially learn for free. Buddy up with someone and you will not only get some help with the language, but you may even make a new friend.
Try, Try , Try
The biggest fear when you are learning a new language is getting it wrong, yet getting things wrong and being corrected is usually the only way that you can really learn something, which is why just getting out there and trying it is the best thing that you can do. There is a fear as well that someone will be offended if you get their language wrong, but that is not my experience at all. The issue in reality is that you will try and speak, if you get it wrong they correct you and you’ve learned something, if you get it right you probably won’t be able to understand what they say next, which will also prompt you to learn something.
In the first few weeks that I was in Mexico I found myself seeking out the comfort zone, eating from fast food restaurants which I know from back home and gravitating towards the areas where I anticipated more English speakers to be. After meeting up with Javier however, I quickly became aware of what I was doing and so made a conscious effort to spend more time in areas which were certainly not in my comfort zone, and where I would feel uncomfortable and have to try my luck with the new language.
One thing which I did that really boosted my vocabulary was learning 10 words per day, and then going through all 60 words on a Sunday. I made sure that I tried to use those words each day too, and every 2 months I would repeat the same words from 2 months prior. This was a greta habit to get into and one which significantly helped.
Good luck learning a new language, you’ll get there.