When it comes to speaking a foreign language, it gets a little tricky – especially while living in another country. No matter what your level of experience is with a language, everywhere you go in the world, you will find differences in the language or dialect. Miscommunications become a common occurrence, often times leading to minor problems or complications. Sometimes, people may not understand you simply because of your accent. Fortunately, these things are normal for any study abroad participant. Everyone experiences them at one time or another, and they shouldn’t be taken as a personal hit to your confidence or abilities. When going on a program where you will have classes in a foreign language, the most important thing to remember is to be persistent and practice. As many times as you may have heard it, practice really does make perfect. The less you practice your foreign language, the harder it will be when it comes to doing that 5-page class essay due next week or the midterm exam further down the line.
For many, including myself, vocabulary is one of the most difficult aspects of learning any foreign language. Depending on region, dialect, and heritage, the vocabulary used can be very different. It can be frustrating when one week you learn that a word means one thing, and the next you learn it can mean something different. Taking a small notebook to make vocabulary lists while in class or doing reading assignments, then reviewing it each night can help amplify your personal glossary. Additionally, it is always important to ask when you do not understand what something means. There is no shame or embarrassment in asking; it is better than being completely lost in the conversation.