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7 Reasons Why You Should Go on a Language Holiday

by Michele
7 Reasons to Do a Language Study Holiday Abroad
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Do you want to improve your language skills and speed up your progress whilst still having fun? Then you should go on a language holiday. Joining a language immersion program abroad is one of the best ways to level up your language skills in a short amount of time.

This summer, I spent 2 weeks in Oslo on a language holiday where I continued learning Norwegian. I learned so much new vocabulary and grammar but most importantly, I’ve never felt more confident with speaking Norwegian. My sole focus for this trip was to learn the language. I didn’t have to worry about my job or running errands. I was 100% focused on absorbing new information and having a holiday at the same time. When I wasn’t in class, I spent the afternoons exploring which allowed me to experience much more of the city than a typical tourist would.  See my Free things to do in Oslo guide to see what I got up to.

This wasn’t the first time I decided to learn a language abroad. My first language course abroad was way back in 2010, when I was learning Italian. Over 5 weeks, I completed a summer language program in Italy where I spent 3 weeks in Rome and 2 weeks in Florence. Little did I know that that trip would transform my life and be a real turning point for me linguistically, personally, and professionally. 

After being in Italy for an extended period of time and using the language daily, I felt more confident speaking Italian. This led me to make the scary but very exciting decision of moving to Rome. Just 2 months after returning to Australia from my language holiday in Italy, I quit my job, applied for a visa and moved to Rome. For the past 9 years, I’ve lived overseas. The difference now is that I live in London and have a new passion for learning Norwegian.

Since October 2018, I’ve been studying Norwegian at Cactus language school. Twice a week I attend their evening classes which fit perfectly around my full-time job. With my 1-year anniversary of studying Norwegian fast approaching, I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, so I asked Cactus to organise a Norwegian language holiday. Cactus organise language holidays to over 120 locations around the world in over 20 languages so all I had to do was choose the dates and duration and they took care of the rest.

What is a language holiday?

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Exploring Oslo

Exploring Oslo after class looked like this.

Before we jump into the many reasons why a language holiday is so effective, let’s first clarify what it is exactly. A language holiday is where you join a language immersion program abroad that is organised on your behalf by your language school. The goal of the trip is to continue your language studies in a destination where your target language is spoken, thus creating an immersive environment.

Some language schools, like Cactus Language, are part of a network of accredited schools based around the world who work together to receive international language students to their school. For my language holiday trip, Cactus reached out to two of their sister schools in Norway and then communicated back to me the available dates, locations and a link to an online placement test to complete. It was pretty simple.

In most cases, the local school you’re travelling to also provides various affordable accommodation options you can choose from including a single or shared room with other students, an apartment to yourself, or (my favourite) staying with a host family. 

A host family basically adopts you as one of their own and you can choose to spend as much or as little time with them.  There’s not obligation. You live in their home and get to see how the locals really live, eat, and communicate with each other. This provides you with invaluable language practice. A huge bonus!

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Overlooking Oslo Fjord

Overlooking Oslo Fjord

Who is a language holiday for?

A language holiday is great for anyone wanting to improve their language skills in a short amount of time, prepare for an exam, or get something extra out of their holiday. It’s also especially beneficial for kinesthetic learners. Find out your language type here.

My only suggestion is that you’re not an absolute beginner with the language. Classes are almost always conducted in the target language which can be challenging if you’re totally new to it. I would save going on a language holiday until you’ve reached at least A2 level proficiency to ensure you get the most out of your language course abroad.

So, why should you go on language holiday?

1. You progress faster

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Take a photo of sign

Not sure what it means? Take a photo to check later.

When you study your target language abroad you’re constantly surrounded by the language which creates an immersive experience that you can’t replicate back home. Going on a language holiday means there are little to no distractions. Your sole focus and purpose of the trip is to learn and use the language which means you can give it your full attention. 

Each morning you warm up your language skills in class by learning new vocabulary, grammar, and participating in class discussions and activities. By lunch time your out and about using street signs to navigate your way around the city, reading menus to order lunch or deciphering supermarket labels to buy food for dinner that night. 

When you go shopping, visit a museum, or buy a train ticket, you’re learning and absorbing the language contextually without too much effort. Of course, you still need to pay attention, but most of the time you can decipher the meaning of a word by its context. If you can’t, you can look it up on your phone or jot it down for later or take a photo.

With this amount of continuous exposure to the language you’re able to retain and recall words more easily and quickly because you’re using them frequently, which means you naturally progress faster. Which leads us to point 2….

2. You feel more confident

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Class notesConfidence is key when it comes to acquiring a new language. No language learner or polyglot is immune to feeling a bit self conscious about their language skills. I’m always particularly aware and conscious of my strong Australia accent. For some reason I want to pronounce Norwegian words with an French accent and use similar words in Afrikaans (both of which were the two languages I studied just before Norwegian). Whatever it may be for you, I can honestly say that a language holiday will help you iron out those insecurities.

There’s something reassuring about being in a classroom with other students that reminds me that we are all in the same boat and have our own strong and weak points and that we’re all working through. 

This realisation paired with continuous use of the language both inside and outside the classroom helped me break through my fear of just opening my mouth and saying something no matter how simple or incorrect it is. As Michel Thomas would say  (and I’m paraphrasing here), the important thing is to just get your point across the net and be understood, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Just hit the ball.

3. You can immediately put into practice what you learn imm

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Learn contextually

Learn contextually by deciphering signs like this.

When you study a language in your home country the learning tends to stop once you close our textbook or leave the classroom, but when you study a language abroad you have countless opportunities to put into all into practice.

Aim to put yourself in situations where you can strike up even the shortest of conversations with people outside of class. I do this all the time when I travel and it usually starts when I land at the airport. I ask the customs officer (after he’s checked my passport, of course) what he/she thinks I should see during my stay. 

Pick someone who you feel comfortable talking to like a shop assistant, barista, or city official and talk to them. I find the easiest way is to open the conversation is by letting the person know you’re a student and are there to learn the language. This generally makes people more receptive to speaking to you.

4. It improves your CV

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Learning verbsBeing proficient in a foreign language is an excellent way of opening up career prospects. As the world becomes more connected and businesses operate with and in other countries, many employers favour candidates who can speak foreign languages. If you’re able to facilitate the company’s growth, you instantly become a valuable asset to the team.

Joining a language immersion program abroad is also a great way to help you prepare for taking a language proficiency exam that you can use to get a job or be accepted into a foreign university.

5. You’ll feel like a local

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Restaurant menuStaying in one location for an extended period of time means you can see and enjoy much more than if you were just visiting for a short holiday.  During my two weeks in Oslo I saw everything on my bucket list, visited some new places I found out about once I arrived and even had time to revisit my favourite place multiple times. (It’s Vigeland Sculpture Park, in case you’re wondering)

You can even start to create a routine like a local would. For example, you might like to have breakfast at your favourite coffee shop every day and maybe even get to know the barista and practice your language skills with them. 

6. You’ll meet new people and make new friends

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Inside ClassroomI met many of my closest friends as a result of attending language classes. When you share a common interest or passion for something with someone, it’s very easy to become friends with them because you’ve instantly connected over something you both care about.

Language schools are great at facilitating and encouraging students to connect with each other. Just like hostels help solo travellers connect with other travellers by running walking tours and activities, many language schools offer the same kinds of activities. 

I highly recommend joining any events or activities offered by the school as it’s a great way to meet other students from different levels. Who knows, you may become friends for life or connect with them again in the future.

7. You never know where it may lead you

Language Study Holiday Abroad - 120 locationsStudying a language abroad can be life-changing. You never know how it will affect your outlook on life or who you’ll meet.  Going on a language holiday might just be your new favourite way to travel. Once you try it, you’ll realise it’s one of the best ways to experience a country and its culture. It’s highly addictive and super fun!

Want to go on your own language holiday?

Language Study Holiday Abroad - Sunset over Oslo

Enjoying the sunset over Oslo.

As I mentioned earlier, Cactus language school offer over 120 language courses abroad in over 20 languages, so you really are spoiled for choice.  For more details and to browse available languages courses, head to the Cactus website.

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!

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7 Reasons to Do a Language Study Holiday Abroad

Over to you!

Do you have a question about going on a language holiday? Ask me!
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

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Rebecca September 15, 2019 - 02:00

I love this idea! A few years ago I had some annual leave that I had to use up, so I went to Nicaragua and spent two weeks at a language school. It was a great way to learn!

Michele September 15, 2019 - 14:27

That’s so great to hear, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing :)


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