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Study Abroad Prep: Use Your College’s Resources to Learn the Language

Jul 26, 2013 • Rachel Braedyn • College Tips
Spanish tapas menu in Spain

Spanish tapas menu in Spain.

The chance to study abroad is a dream for students who want to travel, but many are afraid of visiting a country where they don’t speak the language. However, not knowing a language doesn’t mean you can’t learn before studying in another country. I was able to improve my Spanish before my study abroad program just by using resources at college. Many similar resources may be available at yours.

Take a Language Course on Campus

If you want structured learning, a language class at your college might be your best option. There are usually courses designed for students who plan to go abroad.

Before I studied abroad in Spain, I took a semester of Spanish to refresh the Spanish I had forgotten since high school. The classes helped me to remember some of those old grammar rules I had forgotten and made me a better Spanish speaker. I personally needed the structure to study grammar, so a language course was extremely helpful.

Join a Conversation Exchange Group

If your college has a department for international students, check with the department to see if they have any language conversation exchange groups you can join. International students are usually willing to help you practice their native language in exchange for you helping them with English.

When I was preparing to study abroad, I participated in a conversation exchange with a girl from Spain named Sofia. To practice, we would meet two hours a week and spend half the time speaking in English and the other half in Spanish. This was a great opportunity because I was able to practice speaking, which made me much less nervous having a conversation once in Spain. Being comfortable speaking Spanish made it a lot easier to make friends while I was studying in Spain, too.

Find Language Books and Resources at the Library

Some students associate the library with finals week, but there are many great resources if you’re learning new language. Most college libraries have entire sections for other languages that include textbooks, recordings, and other resources.

I found many of my Spanish books and recordings there because there were so many to choose from. My university’s library even had newspapers from Spanish-speaking countries. And best of all, all the resources I found at the library were free to use.

If you want the chance to travel, consider joining a study abroad program. Even if you don’t know another language, there are plenty of ways to learn on campus before you set foot in another country.

Don’t think you have enough time at college to study? Don’t worry. While abroad, you can learn a language much more quickly than you might think. As much as I learned at school, I learned even more while immersed in the language.

Photo source: Ruth L on Flickr

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