Today’s guest post introduces great ways to learn Chinese while travelling! Learning a language is difficult as it is, but if you can do it while you have fun, it will feel easier.
Travelling can be a great way to practice your language learning in actual situation, but for all the real life application, travelling to learn a language is inferior to the classroom in many ways. While it can be useful, it’s not really as valuable for learning as it’s made out to be. It’s great for practicing what you’ve learned, but not so great for learning it in the first place.
Learning a language is primarily about learning words and how to put them together to get your meaning across. Travelling may be a great way to test how much you’ve really learned (you might be surprised, both at what you know and what you don’t), but is really bad for learning lots of new words. That takes actual study.
That said, here are four advantages to augmenting your Mandarin Chinese learning with travel:
- Reinforce learning – This may well be the greatest reason to travel as part of your learning endeavor. No matter how much time you spend studying at home, it’s really important to actually apply what you’ve learned if you’re going to reach any real level of proficiency. It would be like trying to learn to play the piano by practicing scales all the time. When you first start, you have to think about what you want to say, and find the right words to express yourself. The more you practice, the easier and faster you get. While you can practice at home, travelling, especially to an area where English isn’t spoken, forces you to practice even more.
- Context – When you’re in the classroom, everything is by the book. Not so in the real world. Travelling gives you the opportunity to hear the language spoken by a variety of people in a variety of circumstances. Your dictionary gives you a lot of information about the words, but doesn’t tell you much about how they are actually used. Listening to native speakers is the best way to learn that.
- Improve listening – While you can learn to understand the language just by paying attention, travelling immerses you in the language so that you hear it all the time. As you travel, you’ll talk with people who speak with different accents and perhaps even somewhat different dialects. When you use the language in a familiar area and situations, it’s easy to smile and nod, but when you’re in an unfamiliar place trying to find your way around, you have to pay attention, or you could find yourself hopelessly lost.
- Culture – You may or may not actually spend more time with the language when travelling than you do at home, but you can’t avoid talking to lots of different people. The best way to learn to understand the people and the culture is to find yourself in their midst. This may not be vital to actually learning the language, but it’s important if you actually want to talk to Chinese people (and why else would you bother learning the language?)
Travelling is certainly a great part of your language learning; it just isn’t useful in quite the way most people think. Randomly wandering through China isn’t going to teach you much you don’t already know, but it will certainly take you from theory to practical application.
Thanks for reading the guest post. A massive cheers to Anna for letting me share this with you! You can visit our website Learn Mandarin Now for more tips to Learn Mandarin Chinese.
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