A Review of STAGES – Guides for the Time-Crunched Language Learner

Having to learn a new language can be a very daunting prospect. However, everyone who has ever lived abroad will probably tell you that it’s worth the effort, so instead of letting the seeming endlessness of the task put you off, just approach it as you would any other task you are faced with: systematically. There are some great resources available to help you with this, for example the one below…

Stages is a series of “short guides for every stage of the language learning journey” written and compiled by InterNations member Aaron Myers, author of the blog The Everyday Language Learner and of a growing number of publications on independent language learning. You may remember Aaron from his guest post on the InterNations blog, Stop Searching for the Silver Bullet – Language Learning for Expats, where he quotes author and language educator Greg Thomson reminding us that, “if we ignore a whole bunch of problems, the hardest thing about language learning is getting started”. And this is precisely where the first guide in the Stages series comes in: “Before You Move Overseas” looks at the very first steps in the process.

Although daunting at first, when broken down into small steps and stages learning a new language all of a sudden seems much more feasible and approachable. As with so many things, preparation is the key to success. Before you start learning a language, you need to define your goals taking several factors into consideration, such as the amount of time and effort you can put into it, the difficulty and the importance of your learning objectives, etc. “Before You Move Overseas” not only provides you with a useful Timeline Worksheet to help you map out the coming months but also contains some hands-on advice on how to structure the language learning process.

The guide itself is divided into three parts: The Research and Development Stage, the Building Stage, and the Launch Stage. The actions you should take in order to complete each stage are outlined in a clear and concise manner, and the rationale behind them is also provided. In fact, one of the big plus points of “Before You Move Overseas” is that at no point when reading the guide will you feel overwhelmed or disheartened! Aaron Myers doesn’t create any false expectations by making learning a foreign language look easy, but he does take the edge off it slightly by showing us how we can integrate the process into our busy daily routines. The motto is: Do a little every day! And even if it’s only an internet search for appropriate target language listening material, it will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal.

Another important message we get from Stages is to be realistic: Fluency is not achieved overnight. It’s a long process and you need to put in a lot of work, but this series of guides offers some practicable advice to help you find a systematic approach suited to your own personal needs. And if you still needed convincing of how important it is for expats to learn the language of their host country, read this article in the Telegraph: Lack of language skills is biggest obstacle for expats. Few things can make such a big difference to your expat experience as understanding the local language. Being able to interact with the people of a country in their native language can give you unique insights into their culture and way of thinking and will put you at a distinct advantage in many respects, both personally and professionally.

With this in mind: Enjoy your language learning journey!

“Before You Move Overseas” in the STAGES series is available from The Everyday Language Learner

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