So, you have just returned home from one of the most amazing overseas experiences of your life. You may feel some post-holiday blues when faced with the disturbing fact of having to return to the daily grind and are unable to shake the incredible memories of the last few months. Whether you were travelling, living or studying Spanish in Latin America or Spain, you are surely to have met a bunch of really interesting people and generally become more culturally enriched from the whole experience. Hopefully for all of you, the joy of reconnecting with friends and family soothes this temporary pain quickly and what will remain is the desire to make your daily schedule back at home more interesting by incorporating some attitudes you had while overseas. Another thing to be considered when time overseas comes to a close is that if you really want to, there will be another adventure in the future.
After a 10-month trip to South America, Europe and Asia in 2011, I was personally in a depressive-like state for weeks after my return. I really put this down to having looked forward to that trip since the age of 13, and quite so suddenly (as we all know time flies when having fun), it was over. This sad state finally came to a close when I found myself in a new workplace with the funnest group of people who lifted me right out of my post-holiday longing. Despite an awesome year working there, my desire to return to Buenos Aires was huge and I decided I better do it while youth was on my side.
I came back to Buenos Aires late last year to live and learn Spanish properly as it had always been something that really interested me. Being Australian and having only ever spoken English, I came to be surrounded in Spanish class by the most impressive young Europeans who already had 2-3 languages under their belt. This blew my mind and really made me appreciate the importance of being able to communicate with as many people around the world as possible.
While I prematurely become nervous about my return home, I am really starting to ponder what ways there are to maintain my Spanish ability in Australia. In my view, to continue speaking Spanish at home would be a brilliant way to, in a way, extend the overseas learning experience and hopefully make us more employable. After months of thought, these seem to be the best options to continue speaking and understanding Spanish at home:
WATCHING LATIN FILMS
Learning Spanish through film is just awesome in building knowledge in sentence structure, vocabulary and very importantly, listening skills. As listening is, for a huge percentage of people, the most difficult aspect of learning a language, it’s great to keep your ears accustomed to the sounds made in Spanish. It would be great if you were to perhaps return to a Spanish-speaking country one day and not be completely shocked by the speed and intonation used by the locals!
LISTENING TO MUSIC AND AUDIO LANGUAGE COURSES
These things are going to be using the same skills mentioned above in the film recommendation. Firstly, if you have satellite radio, search for foreign stations. With latin music, vocabulary and listening skills will be gained and it will be extremely beneficial to listen to them repeatedly. Audio language courses these days are fortunately quite extensive and obviously efficient in many ways. Download a bestselling audio course directly to your MP3 player or iPod and take all your language learning with you. There are many different courses out there available such as Collins Language, WH Smith, BBC Language and many more. Audio courses encourage a more instinctive approach to learning by immersing you in the language from the start of each course. Many include tips to help you remember each lesson, and cultural advice on local customs.
READ ONLINE NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
The Internet also offers a variety of newspapers, trade magazines and journals that will help keep you informed and help learn new expressions. One example is onlinenewspapers.com, which offers “thousands of world newspapers at your fingertips.”
CONTACT LANGUAGE COLLEGES THAT OFFER ¨STUDENT NIGHTS¨
It is safe to say that everywhere in the world, language colleges offer a wide variety of activities and social events that encourage their students to get out there and meet some locals. This would be an awesome way to share learning experiences with some nice international students, some of whom might hopefully be students who are native-Spanish speaking. From there, a friendship could start that could benefit both you and the student whether you decide to speak half the time in Spanish and the other half speaking your native language.
JOIN A LANGUAGE CLUB
Such groups often hold conversation circles where non-native speakers can practice. If no club exists near you, consider starting one yourself. Websites like Meetup.com can be useful for finding clubs or connecting with like-minded language learners.
Good luck with improving your Spanish, meeting new people, enjoying life at home and planning your next adventure!