Life Abroad

Learning a New Foreign Language – Tips and Tricks

This #WanderlustWednesday learn tips from Olivia who studied in Norway during high school and is now studying International Relations in college! Apply for Spring 2019 programs abroad by September 15th at

One of the most compelling reasons to study abroad in high school is the experiential learning opportunities you become a part of. Language immersion is a key part of this experience, whether through the opportunity to learn a whole new language or to practice a language you have learned for years in the context of daily life abroad!Learning A Foreign Language (2)With Aspect Foundation, you have this amazing possibility to be involved in an intensive language program. I have to admit, when I first studied abroad I did not do enough to prepare myself for learning a second language. I learned how to read and write a few sentences from Duolingo, but I had no idea how to speak Norwegian or understand it when someone spoke it to me. If I had the ability to go back in time here are a few things I would do differently…


The day I decided I wanted to study abroad in Norway should have been the day I began studying Norwegian! However, I put it off until one week before leaving the U.S. This was a huge mistake because I quickly became overwhelmed when listening to my host family, which made me feel isolated at times. I recommend asking your friends and family at home to help you study or listen to you speak the foreign language before you go abroad. They may not be able to tell you if your pronunciation is correct, but speaking aloud will help your confidence greatly. Another tip is to look into organizations in your hometown that offer language resources, such as local libraries, cultural centers, or community colleges.


Thankfully we have the internet! Today you can find foreign TV shows and movies in every language with a simple Google search. You can start off by putting foreign language subtitles on English movies to pick up on some phrases. 


Everyone learns differently. I discovered that the best way for me to learn a foreign language was by listening to it. I picked up the most by listening to my friends talk to one another. Some people may learn better with flashcards or watching YouTube videos. Whatever it is, practice using the method(s) that works best for you and ask your friends and host family to help you!


If you can avoid the tendency to speak English as much as possible, you will be able to speak your new language better. Try speaking at the dinner table in your new language. Ask your friends and host family to speak to you in their native language, but don’t be afraid of asking them to slow down or to repeat themselves. Remember, your host family and friends want you to succeed in learning their language! Many of them will take time to help make sure you get your pronunciation and grammar correct. Be patient with yourself and take the time to try to respond in the foreign language instead of in English!


When you’re deciding where to study abroad be sure to keep in mind that for some countries, such as Germany, France, Ecuador and Argentina, it is strongly preferred that you have studied the native languages before. For other countries, such as Italy, it is recommended that you have had some practice in Italian or Spanish.

In countries such as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark it can be very difficult to learn the foreign language since nearly the entire population speaks English. For these countries it may not be required that you have had any formal training in the language, however, it is a good idea to get in as much practice and learning as possible before you go abroad.

Being immersed in a foreign language while studying abroad can be a challenge, but you can prepare by practicing your new language early on! 

To ask Olivia more questions about her study abroad experience in Norway or for other study abroad tips, contact us at or 800-879-6884! Click here to submit an inquiry form for your dream study abroad program today!