When you come to a country that speaks a language not your own, it may contribute to feelings of alienation. More of this and you will find homesickness setting in sooner rather than later. If you are an overseas worker and are looking to settle there in the foreseeable future, it makes sense to learn a little bit of the local language.
Have a Goal
It’s easy to say “I will learn a new language” but it’s hard to follow it up without concrete goals. Having a goal means that you have to specify a timeline. You have to take measurable steps to achieve that goal. Take small steps, though, as too big a goal may discourage you if you fail in achieving it. For example, you can’t expect to be fluent in a new language in a matter of months. Not unless you practice every day and you pick up languages easily. Aim to be able to buy groceries at the local store using the new language in two months’ time – that’s more like it.
Use Technology and Practice
We’re in the age of information (and technology), take advantage of the wealth of apps and free resources available to us. I personally use Duolingo as it’s free (although it offers in-app purchases) and it offers a lot of languages that you can learn. You can learn using mobile apps or online via desktop. Once you have signed up, make sure you use the app and practice what you’ve learned. I’m pretty sure that you browse social media for more than a quarter of an hour; imagine what fifteen minutes per day can do for your language skills.
Buy a Phrasebook
If you are committed, buy a phrasebook first. It will give you a taste of the syntax, and provide you with the most useful words. A phrasebook does not give you an in-depth look at the language and it’s vagaries, though. It usually comes pre-packed with scenarios that you will most likely find yourself in – like asking for directions and ordering at a restaurant.
Read and Watch Videos in the Local Language
Back when Meteor Garden starring Jerry Yan (squee) was a thing, I watched the whole series in the original Mandarin (with English subtitles, of course). I learned pengyou (friend), shi (yes), bushi (no), and a whole lot of choice words – all by watching the series. Learning a new language is easy if you immerse yourself in it, and if you devote time to it.