Language learning tip: Know what you want and practice, practice, practice

People learn languages for a variety of reasons. Some wish to read poetry in another language, others wish to conduct business, and yet others simply want to talk to natives in their travels. Different language learning strategies apply, depending on your motivation and goals.

Most people who come to Euroasia wish to converse with native speakers when travelling or doing business. Most seasoned businesspeople will understand “doing business” is largely about developing relationships so there's a large degree of overlap between those learning a language for business and social reasons.

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If your priority is to learn the written word, then you should focus on reading from Day 1. In some instances this may not be possible (think Chinese/Japanese/Korean), but for most European languages this is very do-able. You may need a dictionary but start with a few sentences a day, and with kids' books.

If you wish to speak with natives, then do so from Day 1. Aim to spend an hour or two every week with native speaker(s) in addition to your usual Euroasia language course. Don't worry about making mistakes. The idea is to expose yourself to the language frequently, and to practice what you've learnt.

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If you live in Auckland, Wellington, or for that matter any New Zealand city, chances are you will find native speakers of the language you're learning. Where? Try community groups. By this I mean joining groups where the majority of members are from the culture you wish to immerse yourself in. If you wish to learn French, join the French group learning about Kiwi culture, NOT the local group of Kiwis appreciating French wine. There are plenty of French travellers coming to NZ on working holidays and they are very keen to meet Kiwis. And all these French people congregate at Frogs in NZ.

Plenty of South American groups (ok usually by country eg Argentinian, Chilean, Colombian etc) exist, as well as Russian, Dutch, Japanese etc. Korean groups usually meet on Sundays (seeing most are Christians), and countless Chinese groups are dotted across the country along cultural, religious and provincial lines.  These migrants always welcome interactions with Kiwis and you will be treated very well. Don't be put off if their website is in Chinese Рsimilarly don't be surprised if some of them speak better English than you!

If you live in Invercargill, you may need to resort to skype for virtual penpals. Distance and isolation is no excuse.

And most important of all – Have Fun!

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.