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21-02-2018 by Linda

You have just booked a language course abroad! Congratulations: what a party, fiesta, feestje or fête! Maybe you have no idea what to expect. Chances are that this is the first time that you're going abroad to learn a new language. In s series of three blogs we give you tips to leave well prepared for your language course.

Here you find part 3 for a good preparation:start your studies at home and set realistic goals.

Develop a study routine at home. In your own country. In the study room (or at the dining table, whatever).

Yes, of course you learn a language the fastest when you go for the complete language immersion in which you get sucked into a new country and a new culture. We already hear you think: 'I just booked a language TRIP, and then at Extralingo they plead with to start my studies at my homecountry already? Why? "Well, we'll explain that to you in detail. During your language trip, the first week will mainly be about 'grounding'. Everything is new. The lessons, the language, the teachers and your temporary home wil all be things you have to get used to. Home study first ensures that you do not have to get used to one aspect that much: the language. But especially for those whose main goal is to learn the new language as fast and as well as possible during your language trip, some home study can help a lot.

      What is the advantage of starting your studies at home already? Studying at home gives you control over your learning environment. You can choose the vocabulary sets yourself and determine the pace at which you want to learn things. This way you are not stuck to the word lists that the school and teacher has chosen. Do you love food? Then you simply choose a list of words of that has to do with cooking, eating, drinking and restaurants. Are you planning to act like a Casanova during your language trip? Then you choose a vocabulary with cheesy or charming pick-up-lines.

      What way you learn the most effective? Just by repeating lists in you head, or by discussing the study material with others? If you study at home, you can structure the learning process in a way that suits your learning style. If you are a visual student, you make memory cards with photos, you are more of an auditory student, then you search for audio clips on YouTube that relate to the vocabulary you focus on. If you are already consciously working on this for your language journey, you will develop good learning habits that you can then continue abroad. It is much easier to keep a study routine if you have been following it for a few months / weeks, than to start one the moment you arrive at your travel destination. The chances are that you are quickly distracted by all the new places to discover and local snacks that need to be eaten.

      2. Set realistic goals and write them down

      This may sound evident, but it is good to think about this: do not assume that you speak the new language fluently after your language trip. Set realistic goals and demarcate them. What are your interests, what do you want to be able to talk about in the new language? Do you work in the art sector? Set as a goal that you can translate words from the art industry and you will be able to have a conversation about Picasso and modern art. Do you expect to travel a lot? Make sure you can tell about that mountaineering and make sure that you can ask questions about transfers and train journeys, instead of focussing on words and phrases within the theme 'school supplies' or something like that.

      When making a learning plan think of Benny Lewis his S.M.A.R.T. goals.Specific. Measurable. Acceptable. Realistic. Time-bound. Think about how many topics you want to be able to chat about and how much time you have to study for this. By thinking about this consciously, you ensure that you make feasible and useful objectives and you prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed or pessimistic about the idea that you have to learn to speak a whole new language.

      Make sure that you can actually reach the goals you set. Even people who are bilingual do not necessarily have to write a novel in the second language. So do not be afraid to make mistakes in the things you say, write or hear in the new language. Think about alternative ways to say the things what you want to say in the new language, without having to use all the specific words that you would use in your own language. Consider that the whole idea behind language is to make yourself understood and not to win prizes for the greatest vocabulary or best methods of expression.

      EXTRA TIP: Write down your made goals on paper and put this list in a place where you see it regularly. This ensures that during the learning process and really stay focused on this.

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      A1

      A2

      hearing You understand... • Some words and basic-sentences • Common words and sentences
      supervisor_account You can... • Briefly introduce yourself
      • Give answers to some simple question
      • Introduce yourself (shortly)
      • Give answers to some simple questions
      mode_edit You can... • Fill in simple forms • Make short notes
      • Write a very simple personal letter
       

      B1

      B2

      hearing  
      You understand... • The thread of a story • Different opinions • Usually the whole story
      supervisor_account You can... • Join a conversations about everyday subjects
      • Briefly give and substantiate your opinion
      • Talk fairly well with locals
      • Clearly explain and substantiate your opinion
      mode_edit You can... • Write down experiences and impressions in a general way • Write down experiences and impressions in a detailed way
       

      C1

      C2

      hearing You understand... • Complex stories and opinions • Literary and academic texts
      supervisor_account You can... • Effortlessly take part in a variety of conversation • Effortlessly have complex conversations and discussions
      mode_edit You can... • Write down comprehensive text
      • Write down detailed situations on paper
      • Write a comprehensive essay
      • Use complex words in your descriptions

      If you do not have any prior knowledge of the language at all, then you are a total beginner. In case you already have a little knowledge, you may consider yourself A1.

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