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Preparing to move abroad – learning a language

Are you preparing for a move to live and work in a different country? If your move takes you to a country where a different language is spoken then it may well be worth preparing before you leave. Any effort you can put in before you move may well make those first few days and weeks in your new home easier.

When we were considering moving to Spain one of the most useful pieces of advice I received was “learn the language”. Statistically, people who make an effort to learn the language when they relocate abroad are more likely to have a positive experience and more likely to remain in their host country.

In 2008 when we were looking to move abroad we registered with a local evening class and spent two hours of each week studying. This was successful for us as it gave us a structure and an incentive. Once I started becoming more confident with the basics then I invested in a CD language course and a number of books. All of these were helpful, but mainly because I already had a weekly class that kept my interest and made the language learning a regular part of my week. The investment in a language learning course before moving really does help. It is tempting to think that when you move it will be easy to learn the language but if you are intending working in your host country then your first few months are likely to be spent adapting to a new job. You may not, at least initially, have time and energy left for study at the end of your working day.

Transparent Spanish Complete Edition

Transparent Spanish Complete Edition

Moving to a different country and a different culture can be quite isolating. Learning the language is an important part of enjoying social interactions in the same way as you do in your home country. Simple aspects of day to day life like asking where a product is in a shop or passing the time of day with a neighbour are all impossible if language is a barrier.

We always offer lessons to our new teachers which are entirely voluntary but extremely popular. Those teachers who have made an effort to begin their language learning before moving do adapt to life here in Spain much more quickly.

The second language aspect of moving abroad to teach is understanding how to help pupils who almost certainly do not have English as their home language. The main difference that you may find in working with a high proportion of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL pupils) is that you become aware of the need for a technical knowledge of English. Children will have questions and without a confident technical knowledge of English then providing the right answers and support is impossible. One way to improve your knowledge of English is to enroll on a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. This may not be essential for the teaching job you are taking abroad. However, the improvement to your own knowledge of English grammar will make you better equipped to support EAL pupils.


i-to-i professional TEFL certificate – 140 hours

Anything you can do to improve your own language knowledge, whether that be the language spoken in your host country or your knowledge of English, will make adaptation to living abroad easier.

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