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Language Learning Abroad


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Learning a language from a book, a class, or an app is one thing, but it's a whole other challenge to talk to someone who grew up speaking that language.  I would love to go to Ireland to practice my Gaeilge, but I feel really intimidated to try it on a native speaker.  I've spoken to a few Irish speakers I've met, but I'm always so embarrassed about my skills.  Do you think that, in order to really master a language, you should spend some time in the country or region where the language is spoken?  Do you think it's important to get to know the culture behind a language firsthand?

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I would love to go to Ireland to practice my Gaeilge, but I feel really intimidated to try it on a native speaker. I've spoken to a few Irish speakers I've met, but I'm always so embarrassed about my skills.


The only way you can gauge you verbal skills is by speaking to native speakers and while traveling abroad and living with them might force you use the language more often, you could also start speaking with native Gaeilge speakers right away if you can find a language exchange partner online. Though of course you might feel a little intimidated initially just remember that once someone realizes you are trying to learn their language they will be more than willing to teach you how to pronounce the words you've learned, correctly.

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@GaeilgeGirl.....I can totally relate to how you're feeling because that's me all over! I don't know why, but I too feel a little intimidated to speak my target language with the native speakers, yet it's naturally the best learning tool IMHO. I believe it's important to know the culture, but  different people learn languages for  different reasons and may not see this as a plus. I love Italian and French because I'm interested not only in the languages, but the people,  history and culture. If I could afford it, I'd travel to France and Italy and spend maybe a year in each country, immersing myself so as to expedite my learning process. Immersion is in fact my favourite way of learning. I was lucky enough to spend 3 months in France and Italy at different stages of my life, and was amazed at how much quicker I learnt. Plus for someone like me who's shy to speak their target language, if you go where the people speak very little English, you're forced to speak your target language, shy or not LOL So if you can go to Ireland, I'd encourage you to do so. 

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Talking to a native speaker is a great idea. I am not too sure about traveling to a place to learn the language though. But, if you need that sort of immersion to learn something or if you have the time, why not do it? Although, you have to remember that most languages have "localized" versions which maybe different from what you're trying to learn - the main/universal/business version of the language. For example, I know that Chinese, Arabic, and Italian vary from region to region.

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It is always best to know the culture behind a language; it helps one appreciate the language more.

I understand what it feels like to speak a language someone has known all their life, caution is always used when communicating. But I guess that is just the beginning, you will improve with time.

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