Learning to speak French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish or German? Whether you are a foreign language major or you want to enter a career where fluency in a second language is either required or desired, then you need more than the ordinary classroom language class. If you truly want to be able to fluently converse in any second language, you should consider studying abroad for a year of your college education. The spoken word in any language may have a wide range of variations in accent and connotation that you will never learn just by studying from a book. You may be able to read Dante’s Divina Comedia in the original Italian, but that doesn’t mean you will be able to discuss a business venture importing olive oil with a native Italian.
Intensive Language Programs
Many colleges and universities across the globe offer Intensive Language Programs. These language classes are exactly what their name implies: extraordinarily focused lessons in your chosen second (or third, fourth…) language. An Intensive Language class is an advanced language training environment with a heavy study load but also with highly successful results. Potential employers are likely to be highly impressed by your Intensive Language Program credentials actually obtained in the country for that specific language.
Complete Cultural Immersion
Have you ever thought about how babies learn to speak a language? As children grow they are always surrounded by the sounds of their native language, whatever that may be. All throughout the day they will hear words spoken to them and around them, ordinary conversations about food and work and school. Their environment encourages understanding, and they absorb the meaning and sounds of words until they are able to repeat them with complete ease.
As an adult, learning a foreign language is not exactly the same as learning their native language as a child. But the same idea of being completely immersed in an environment where those words are being used constantly in every conversation will enable you to much more easily absorb the meaning and sounds of words until you too can use them in conversation with complete ease.
Practice Makes Perfect
Yes, it’s an old cliché but it is an appropriate one when it comes to learning to speak a second language fluently. You can “repeat after me” in a classroom or with a language tape all you want, but unless you actually use the language on a regular basis you will never thoroughly understand all of the nuances of tone and context that allow someone to become truly fluent.
However, consider that you want to enter a field where speaking fluent Italian will be beneficial to your career. Perhaps importing, or perhaps a chef, an art dealer, or any number of careers would benefit from your ability to speak fluent Italian. So you sign up for a year of study abroad in Florence. Every day you are living amongst people who speak Italian to communicate their every need. You will have to use your Italian language skills to ask for directions, order a meal, make friends with a classmate, shop for new shoes and every other conversation you’ll have as you go about you daily life in Italy. As time progresses, you will find you can make yourself understood by native Italians a lot more easily, and that you can actually follow a conversation in a group of people speaking Italian.
Whatever language it is that you wish to learn, by spending time studying abroad in that particular country you will be able to perfect your language skills to the highest level of expertise. Not only will your resume impress potential employers, but you will be able to put your skills to practical use when you are on the job. You’ll impress those natives with whom you’ll be doing business in their particular language, and you’ll be able to effectively communicate and successfully conduct the business of your employers.
The very best way to perfect your second language skills is to study abroad, enrolling in an Intensive Language Program, immersing yourself completely in the culture, and practicing the language constantly as you go about your daily life.