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Gap Years: Learn A Language

Learning a language can be a great thing to do on your Gap year even if you hated learning languages at school.

There are many advantages (and very few cons) so it’s a great thing to consider if you’re unsure of what your Gap year yet entails.

  • Language skills look impressive on a CV even if they aren’t needed for a particular job
  • If you’re planning on travelling they can be a great asset in helping you get around and meet new people
  • Actually learning the language whilst your abroad is an even greater way of connecting with people who may also be taking a Gap year
  • It’ll be a great way to keep your mind active and stop it from turning to mush during that year
  • It can be fun!

Where can I learn a language?

Some people prefer to learn a language for a few months before they go abroad whilst others like learning whilst travelling.

There are many ways (and places) where you can learn a language so it’s best to find one which is particularly suited to the way you’d like your Gap year to go.

Factors to consider

  • Classes – these can be taken whilst abroad or in England. Language schools can be found in the most exotic of locations or in the busy streets of London but there are 3 important things to look out for- price, quality and availability.
  • Price - language classes can be expensive and whilst this may reflect the teaching standard its best to read reviews before signing up to anything that will be take up a lot of your hard earned cash.  Learning abroad can be far cheaper but again reviews are the best way to guarantee quality.
  • Quality - reviews of language schools can be found online through the websites below but it is important to remember that each school will teach in its own way. Ask questions about the number of hours, intensity and teaching methods so that you can figure out if the classes will work with the way you learn.
  • Availability - courses can fill up pretty quickly so make sure to book in advance and don’t necessarily expect to turn up and find a place available.
  • Practice with a native speaker – again this can be done within the UK or abroad. If you’re planning on volunteering or working in one place abroad for a long period of time then it might be a good idea to try and stay with a native family and pick up a language this way. Remember however that this method of learning may not be as structured as taking classes or learning online so think about whether it’d be right for you.
  • Online or through audio tapes – websites and audio tapes are a good way of fitting in learning around your schedule. Some will have a lot to offer and may be a lot cheaper than signing up to classes but it is important to remember audio learning is necessary to perfect pronunciation and without someone listening to your speech it can be hard to correct yourself or know where you’re going wrong.

How long will it take to learn a language?

It really depends on how proficient you want to be and how hard you’re going to work at it.

Some people pick up languages very easily whilst others slightly struggle at the beginning.

To make the most of your time think very carefully about which method of learning you’d be most suited to and the harder you work, the quicker you’ll learn.

What are the most useful languages to learn?

It depends entirely on what you want to do with your language skills.

You may have a firm idea of what language you want to learn but if you’re unsure think about where you’ll be travelling or where you’d like to work in the future and which languages may be most useful for those travels or that job.

To point you in the right direction French and Spanish can be extremely useful in the charity sector to help if working in Latin America or Africa, whilst the business sector has a strong preference for European languages, particularly German and French.

Useful links