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Language Classes vs Living in a Foreign Country?


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Which one do you think works better when it comes to learning a new language: taking language classes or going to live in a foreign country of your language of choice?

I think both are important in gaining a grammatically-correct fluency of a language. But I also think living in a foreign country is faster. And yet, I know people who have lived here for many years and never learned English. Hmmh... I just don't know.

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Immersion is always going to be better.

People who are in a foreign country but don't learn the language are usually not actually immersed, they live in a subculture of some sort that speaks their own language despite their geographical location.

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I think learning classes, are more effective than living in a foreign country. I think if I was trying to learn a new language by living in a foreign country, I would probably have a difficult time, because there it would basically be like being thrown into the fire. Learning classes would be better and help you more effective.

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Immersion, no doubt about it.  Classes are good, but nothing beats hearing and speaking the language you want to learn with different voices and accents the whole day.  I think I'm having a hard time learning Dutch right now because I'm not currently living there, but once I move there things will get better. I hope.

Taking language classes is good tho, isn't as efficient as immersion, but it definitely helps.  A lot people can't afford moving to the country where the language they want to learn is spoken, so language classes are a nice way to learn it without spending too much.

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I think that for starters, taking language classes would be better, because there will be a teacher that can guide you, and you can freely ask them questions. Then when you want to put to practice what you have already learned, then immersion in the country that speaks that language would be best.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Immersion, no doubt about it.  Classes are good, but nothing beats hearing and speaking the language you want to learn with different voices and accents the whole day.  I think I'm having a hard time learning Dutch right now because I'm not currently living there, but once I move there things will get better. I hope.

Taking language classes is good tho, isn't as efficient as immersion, but it definitely helps.  A lot people can't afford moving to the country where the language they want to learn is spoken, so language classes are a nice way to learn it without spending too much.

I completely agree. I would just like to add: If you can afford it, go with immersion AND language classes in the respective country  :karate:

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I would think taking classes is the best way to go because you will learn all the basis of the languages. I would not think people would go to foreign countries to learn when they are learning 3 to 4 languages. I think it is impossible to do so because no one really wants to spend time in a foreign country just to learn the language.

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If you have the means, the best way to learn a language [supposing you're interested in the people, their culture and so on] then the best way to get all that is live among them [the people whose language you're learning].

It would also be very helpful to have some contact with kids. They TEACH language like no one else can and don't care much for your feelings when they correct you if you can't pronounce a word right. One thing I learned is that good enough isn't good for them. You just have to be as good as everyone else. Nothing less.

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I am 100% for living in another country and learning a language in that way.

I believe this type of process gives you more than what you gain through classroom experience.

As a learner, you face real-life situations and see how a word is used in different scenarios.  Also, you hear slang.  Slang is a struggle for anyone learning a new language since words pop up and disappear depending on what's happening within that specific culture.

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Both have beneficial qualities, but I think actually living and experiencing the life in another foreign country would help a person learn a language better. Language classes are very helpful, but the environment is not the same as the foreign country. Visiting a foreign country is traveling, and people who are interested in exploring new surroundings and environments would pay more attention and want to learn the new language. People who are "hands-on" and enjoy experimenting rather than reading and writing all day would enjoy exploring the new life in the foreign country. Also, when visiting a foreign country, you learn more about the country's culture, and are exposed to native speakers who might help enhance the learner's pronunciation.

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I believe both settings can very well help an individual learn more about the language. I teach English online to Koreans and some of them have been to my country to also study in English academies here plus they also get to enjoy the tourists destinations. :) Immersing yourself in the culture of the people of speak the language can help one be familiarized with the correct usage and pronunciation of words. :)

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I think a bit of both works really well. In a formal classroom setting it's easier to break the language down into its core components and build up from there to prevent fatal errors as you get better, than perhaps if you were suddenly immersed in a new language and you'd just be picking up slang and the such. On top of that, I think a person needs some base knowledge for immersion to really work, or else everything around you is just gibberish and you wouldn't really be able to figure out meanings for yourself, I suppose?

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I think you need to learn through some basic classes first, but nothing is better than being thrown in the deep end and forced to learn the language by living in the foreign country. Classes are important to learn the basic structure as well as respect shown in the language but after that go to the country for some real experience.

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  • 1 month later...

I think that both doing language classes and living in a foreign country has their part in learning a foreign language. When learning a foreign language  it is best to start off with classes so that the basics of the language can be understood. However, in terms of mastering the language, it would be best to live in that country where you get to speak with natives and understand it's culture more.

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Immersion is a terrible place to start if you have 0 prior knowledge, for it would take a very long time to grasp common conversation. One should educate himself/herself at least a little bit, get some basics down before going to live in a country of a different language. It would expedite the learning process and save you a lot of time.

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Both methods have merits. I have to give the edge to immersion. That's how I learned how to speak German when I was a kid. I spoke German fluently just by living in the country among the civilians. My parents didn't stay on the Army post. When lived in the city with regular German citizens.

I am hoping that if I return to Germany for a year or so, the language will return to me.

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It depends upon the person. Koreans in our place never even tried to learn our Language although there are some and they are very exceptional. Most foreigners do not learn our language even with the lapse of 10-20 years which is sad. It is really dependent upon the eagerness of a person to learn that particular language that counts.

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Immersion is a terrible place to start if you have 0 prior knowledge, for it would take a very long time to grasp common conversation. One should educate himself/herself at least a little bit, get some basics down before going to live in a country of a different language. It would expedite the learning process and save you a lot of time.

I understand your point. But I doubt anyone who intends to live in a foreign country for a long time would be going there without even equipping himself/herself with the most basic of the language (such as numbers, greetings and often used phrases). Tourists are an excuse since they are only visiting a country for short term. But then again, most immigrants actually adapt to their new home (which includes learning the language) much quicker than those who study in language classes, so as most people mentioned, immersion certainly has an edge.

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There is no better way to learn a new language than live in a foreign country and learn the native tongue used there. But many people cannot afford to do so and for them classes are better. I have had the opportunity of staying in a foreign country and learning the language so I know that it is the best.

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A combination of both is ideal.  I lived for 4 months as a student in Murcia, Spain.  This part of Spain isn't touristy, so English is uncommon.  I was immersed and had to speak Spanish all time.  I was also taking lessons as part of my studies, which helped my speaking and comprehension.  It was the perfect combination.  I was able to practice what I learned in class. 

Immersion without any knowledge will just be overwhelming; classes without any real-life practice will be lost.  By putting the two together you get a balance that works perfectly

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Immersion leaves you no choice but to really learn the language. You mostly learn slang though and you'll most probably learn some incorrect grammar. Formal learning is nice but it's hard to learn everything you would need to know in a practical setting just from classes. So, I would have to agree with most posts here that you would really need both to have an ideal learning of a language.

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I think having a few language classes is important to learn the basics and everything. But once you've picked the basics up I would say hands down living in a foreign country. Being immersed in the language and the culture all day really allows you to progress much easier.

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