Welcome to the 5-week Linguist Show. This week, we’re going to talk about private language schools.
Prepare to study abroad next summer with these tips
I’m a huge fan of private language schools in different countries. And I tend not to do them at home and I have some reasons for that. Firstly, I certainly don’t think that they’re ineffective, but when you’re a novice level or an A-learner, there’s so many things that you can do on your own. I might not even invest in going abroad while I’m in the A-level or the novice level until I can make my own sentences because you can make really quick progress, particularly over five weeks. So firstly, I wanted to talk about if you’re a complete novice in a language, within the next five weeks, you can find yourself really recalling a lot of language. You can make fast progress and I’m not going to say fluent by a long shot or even out of the A or the novice range. However, I say this because with a small investment, I wouldn’t do more than half an hour a day, you can really build your skills fairly quickly. It takes twice as long to go through the intermediate or the B-level and three times as long to go up through that higher level. So basically you can make really fast progress. You can go from nothing to being able to make your own sentences with a couple of hundred-hour investment.
Study abroad next summer: plan your time
Now we’re all different. I always refer back to those Foreign Service Institute courses and their research that talks about the number of hours that we have to invest in steady to be proficient at a language. I take those not at the hour value for a couple of reasons. First of all, the learner profiles, these are people who are dedicating all of their time to learning a language. And they’re very focused. Many of them have already learned another language so they can ladder. They get the process. They’ve been through it. They’re not intimidated and they can go very quickly. And they’re very career oriented. So they have to be successful at this to be able to move through their career. So it’s really imperative for them to do.
With that said, I think they’re great guidelines. They give you an idea. These are exceptional learners and it might take me twice as long to hit the same levels that they do. But I think they’re just good guidelines to plan your time. And I used to do a 200 hour challenge over five weeks and you’re welcome to do that. If you’ve got time during the summer, it was every moment I could find free. I immersed myself in languages and I made a great deal of progress. It really is just full time, if you thought about a full-time job being 40 hours a week over five weeks. But I wasn’t sitting in a class, I wasn’t paying tuition, and I wasn’t really paying for many materials. I was using some apps. I was watching some videos. I was spending some time on italki, journals, et cetera. Really, really fun and valuable thing to do that you could do over the next five weeks. And I also want to say that I took breaks. At this point, I wouldn’t do more than half an hour a day. I was very tired, but I was very pleased with my progress, having said that, and I made a great deal of progress.
But that’s not sustainable. So it’s not something, I don’t think I would ever do that again, to be honest with you. I was so tired, but it worked. And I was working on my Italian at the time and I made a big push. I went from one sub-level to another and it was really great. Again, I’d never do it again. It’s really more of a lifestyle now. I’ve learned how to do those 200 hours in a different way, in a way that is not disruptive to my life, does not stress me out, does not require all of my time. A half an hour and then you got to take a break and then another half an hour. I wouldn’t do it again, but it works.
Now the same reason I wouldn’t suggest investing in going abroad. If you’ve got the money and you’ve got the time and you want to do that, then please by all means go. But anything more than a half an hour at a time when you’re a novice level learner can be really mentally exhausting. I had to take those breaks. Now I had the opportunity to be able to do that. But oftentimes it’s not realistic. It’s not realistic for most people. You’ve got work, you’ve got family, you’ve got things to do. It’s just not going to happen. And if you’re in a language school all day, that can be really mentally exhausting. Think about knowing no language and you’re just listening all the time. Whereas maybe a year from now, you can be at a language school and be at that intermediate level and have invested more than 200 hour hours in your language and have made a great deal of progress in five week intervals over the next year, in a way that really fits into your life.
Study abroad next summer: start now
So maybe you’ll start with Pimsleur. Maybe you’ll start with italki. Maybe you’ll start with podcasts where you’re listening. Half an hour a day, maybe it’s on your commute. Maybe it’s in your walking. Maybe it’s with your exercise routine. Maybe it’s your pleasure reading. Something that really realistically fits into your life and a year from now when we can all travel again, hopefully, you’re at your dream language school making serious progress through that intermediate level. You’ve done a lot of the hard work. That’s some of the hardest work you’re going to do. While it goes fast, through that novice, through that A-level, it’s also some of the hardest work. It’s getting over having to make mistakes. It’s getting over not knowing anything. It’s getting over that frustration of really not being able to express yourself. You will have moved past that and you will have done so in a way that fits beautifully into your life.
Study abroad next summer: funds
And also I wanted to talk a little bit about finances. So I had the privilege of spending five weeks at this beautiful Airbnb in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris. I would do the same, something similar in Italy, was my plan for last year and that didn’t work. But you can get on italki and teach or teach English lessons. I know some people who are doing that, VIP Kids, teaching English, doing some kind of side hustle, maybe when things open up, opening up your home to an Airbnb.
I know those Chase credit card rewards could fund your airline ticket. Or I know the Chase Sapphire card does rewards. I know there’s other cards out there. There’s lots of different options when it comes to this kind of thing. But I bet with your bank or the company that you deal with, that you could find a way that fits really seamlessly into your life that you could pay off every month to be able to earn enough rewards a year from now to be able to do this for free or for very little money. So imagine that you’re in Madrid a year from now, living in your beautiful Airbnb, going to your language school, which tend to be about four hours a day in the morning, you get the rest of the day to tour around, see things, talk to the locals, really just lifetime of memories, experience, really, really great. And I highly recommend it. But I don’t recommend doing it for most people until you’re in that intermediate level and then you can really get something out of it.
So you can spend the next year with time you already have in your day getting to that level and planning to make that abroad experience really accessible financially. But again, if that’s not an object for you, then good for you. And I wish you a great time learning languages. But please know that you can do that anywhere and you can get the same benefits and the results from anywhere in the world. It doesn’t have to be abroad. If you’ve studied at a language school, tell me about your experience. I’d love to hear about it. Thanks so much, until next time.
Thank you for listening to the five week linguist show with Janina Klimas.
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Get started speaking a new language now to prepare for your study abroad experience next summer. Check out the survival task guide: https://reallifelanguage.lpages.co/survival-language-checklist/