There’s no doubt about it; travelling is all the more enriching if you know at least a little of the language of the country you’re visiting. Before you go try and get hold of one of the Rosetta Stone language courses, or look for a free course online so you can at least brush up on your pleases, thank yous, yeses and nos.
Of course it’s difficult when you’re travelling to so many different countries, but in that case you should opt for at least a little Spanish, or even Mandarin. Learning a foreign language can be difficult and time consuming if school French lessons are anything to go by, but the results are worthwhile. You can chat to more people in your hostel, charm the opposite sex with your elaborate lingo and most importantly, have more meaningful conversations with locals. You'll be able to articulate what you want to say much clearer and can create a connection on their level. Locals are much more receptive to travellers who make the effort, and it can help you with getting around a country, checking into hostels and ordering food from restaurants at the very least.
If you’re going to Europe or South America for example, once you’ve done your quickie course at home it’s a great idea to book into a language course from the first week so that you’re well versed in the way they do it over there. Trust us, it’ll be quite different from your language lessons at home. This is also a great way to get to know a few other new arrivals to make friends with, but more on that later.
And of course, if you’re a master in the art of English, travelling around is the perfect opportunity to show of your skills. Well paid jobs in Korea will see you well, while you can trade in your skills for free accommodation in Europe and volunteer your talents in South East Asia is return for knowing someone’s English is better thanks to you.
TEFL on Your Gap Year
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a really popular way to travel the world for longer, and even get paid for it. Countries like Japan, South Korea and China will pay you well for your English skills, and in many cases you won’t even need any previous accreditation, just English as your mother tongue. You can soon get a job as a fully fledged English teacher in these destinations, or as a language assistant if you prefer.
There are many TEFL courses you can take in England before you arrive to put you one step ahead. The level you need will depend on your destination, budget and time but they can range from a quick online courses to more intense options, to night classes to boot camps to whole blummin degrees in the subject. Which one you choose really depends on your level of commitment and how much you’re going to rely on it. If you're hoping to teach for just a few weeks in a developing country you won't neccessarily need it to get a job, although it will give you a little extra confidence when you're stood in front of a class of 40.
Alternatively you could complete a TEFL qualification while you’re out there. Many countries offer projects where you can arrive and complete the course then go straight into job right there and then - a great option for first timers.
Or, you could just turn up to a destination, ask around and hope for the best. In places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand schools are in desperate need of your help and it’s a great opportunity for you to assimilate into local life without having to pay, instead you’re putting your resources where they’re needed most.
Whichever option you choose pat yourself on the back for choosing to teach English as a Foreign Language – it’s an important skill the world over. Take a look at the top gap year TEFL destinations to gather some inspiration on where exactly you should go.
Gap Year Language Courses
If you’re arriving in a new country where you can’t speak the language and you don’t know anyone, it’s a great idea to book onto a language course. Here are just 7 reasons why...
You’ll meet people with the same level as you to practice with.
You can learn as much or as little of the new language as needed.
You’ll meet locals and can glean from their knowledge and language skills.
It’s reassuring to have something to do as soon as you arrive somewhere, so you’re not wandering around aimlessly.
You’ll learn a language much faster when you’re in a destination and you don’t have a choice!
Mum and dad will be into it, we guarantee.
If a language course sounds a little intense for you, you could mix it up with something else. There are plenty of language and activity courses you could join. Argentina, Chile, Italy, Panama and even the Ukraine are just a few examples of the countries you could visit and learn a language. Combine with martial arts classes, cooking classes, business studies or even wildlife research to have a more rounded introduction to a country.
On the courses you won’t just be looking at how language is spoken, but also how it’s used and its place within a culture. On a language study course you’ll learn all about what’s important to the locals, as well as how it relates to their language and how to speak it.