“Travel broadens the mind” is a very common phrase, and just as true as it is common. This comes in quite nifty with language learning as well, for a broadened mind is a language absorber.
When we travel, we have to think in new ways, and adjust ourselves to the cultures we have immersed ourselves in. The brain is thus, in a constant state of openness and learning, perfect for taking in a language.
If you want to study Spanish, go travel and live in Spain, or Central and South America. Want to learn Chinese? then China is the place for you. Total immersion is the name of the game, where inserting oneself into the environment of the target language leaves the brain no choice but to pick up on things that would have been missed learning in a classroom.
True as it is that travel is good for the mind and language learning, it’s not always possible for us to travel when and wherever we want, so the next best thing is to find native speakers to converse with either online or as in-person friends. This is one of the reasons why a site like Verbling is so useful.
We’re not always exposed to native speakers of our target language so easily, so coming online and finding native speakers in one convenient spot is extremely beneficial. In a way, it enables us to travel without leaving the comfort of our own computers, and our country.
More and more, this world is becoming border-less in terms of communication and cultural divides, thus easier and easier for language immersion, and sometimes we just need to take a chance and leave our all too familiar zone of comfort.
Right now, I live in Guatemala (I’m from the United States), and when I first came here, I didn’t know a lick of Spanish – only the basics. I arrived here by plane into Cancun, Mexico, and from there, having to navigate with no Spanish language knowledge, had to find a bus to the a place called Chetumal, then from there I had to find a taxi to the Mexico/Belize border, and once I crossed the border, I needed to find another taxi that would take me to a city in Belize called San Ignacio, at close 11pm. Belize originally was my final destination, but my girlfriend (whom I went to Belize to see), suggested that we cross into Guatemala. And so here I am, in Guatemala, with Spanish and Mayans all around me. In Such an environment, it’s only natural that my Spanish would improve rather quickly, and it has!
So take a cue from traveled folks, and get out there and immerse yourself in the environment you want to embody, even if just for the language. It will be a challenge, but it’s through challenges where the will and the mind are strengthened.