The Benefits of Foreign Language Experience When Traveling the World
In April 2018 I quit my job and began traveling around the world. Since then, I have taught myself Russian and improved my teaching skills by helping others with languages I am familiar with. The more places I visited on my journey, the more I became interested in foreign languages. I had the chance to teach people German and English, while also learning other languages and alphabets from them. I realized that while helping others, I developed a passion for teaching. I then decided to travel to Southeast Asia and acquire a TEFL certificate, which will enable me to teach English and live in a foreign country.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Michael G.
My first learning experiences on my journey around the world showed me that getting familiar with the country, people, culture, and language, not only improves your ability to communicate, but it also expands your understanding of people, characters and personalities. In Armenia, I helped a ten year old boy with basic English words and numbers. I translated it from Russian (the second language in Armenia) to English and helped him improve his writing and pronunciation skills. In Iran, I met a woman who wanted to work in Germany as a nurse. In order for her to achieve this, she needed to provide a CV in German, so I helped her translate it properly. I also met a man in Iran who was interested in philosophy. He was very motivated to learn German in order to be able to read the original literature of his favorite philosophers. We practiced some grammar and spelling to help him with achieving his goal. These are just a few examples that showed me the importance of learning new languages. It is imperative to have these skills in order to obtain a higher education, enhance career opportunities and for personal growth.
An important point about foreign language experience is the personal aspect for the teacher. Traveling itself is one of the best ways to improve and educate yourself by learning about new countries, people, culture, and languages. Becoming more confident and independent is one of the benefits of traveling, because you have to deal with a lot of unfamiliar situations and find solutions quickly and on your own. For example, figuring out where to stay, where to get food, how to handle your budget and how to get around etc. Exploring a new country also requires dealing with a new language. In this case, it would be helpful to learn some basic words and phrases, as well as getting familiar with a new alphabet. It is possible to learn with dictionaries or learning applications, by speaking to people in their mother tongue and also by listening to people speak in order to try to understand. Once you're able to communicate, there will be new opportunities that can help you learn more, meet new people and even make new friends. Language exchange brings a lot of advantages to everyday life, even if it is just being able to ask for the bus.
Another aspect of language exchange is not just improving yourself or helping others while traveling, but also actively teaching languages in schools and institutions. In this case, it is not just about providing knowledge to students but also gaining knowledge while teaching because you become aware of ways to improve yourself. You can learn from the mistakes of the students and get inspired by their ideas and points of views. Apart from that, working with people and giving them knowledge is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Once you see them improve and get motivated, they become happy and confident, and so do you. There are clearly a lot of benefits to be had from language exchange for both those learning the language and those who already speak it. So it is always a good choice to learn a new language and implement it in real life.
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