If there were a ridiculously easy and fun way you could gain the competitive advantage of knowing a foreign language, would you do it?
While learning a new language can make you more employable, it’s not always easy when you’re searching for a job, gaining skills from the latest books on leadership and giving 107 percent to whatever is making you money now.
Understandably, learning a language might sound like the furthest priority from your growing list of obligations.
But with the help of these five tactics below, learning a foreign language can be a fun and easy process that helps you find a job and lowers your stress:
1. Choose a language you truly enjoy
Don’t just choose Spanish because it’s commonly spoken. If you’re going to put effort into anything, you should enjoy it. Where have you always wanted to travel? The Red Square in Moscow? Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China? The canals of Venice, Italy?
If it’s Italy, decide to learn Italian, and then start planning your visit to stunning Venice or jaw-dropping Tuscany.
2. Use your down time to watch movies
Even if you want to spend all of your time searching for a job and building up other skills, breaks are oh-so-necessary.
If you choose Italian, watch Italian movies. If the budget is tight, go to the public library and rent out movies from the foreign language section.
3. Discover new music
We all know how it feels to be stressed out and then hear an amazing song come on our iPod that totally takes us to a new, less icky place.
Go to the MTV website of the country whose language you want to learn—MTV.it if you’re learning Italian, for example—and explore what songs they have to offer. Then take some of those names and do YouTube searches to find related artists. Even if you can’t understand it yet, you can appreciate the rhythm and the way it sounds.
Plus, sites like MTV.it are fascinating. Explore the TV shows section and watch dubbed clips of Teen Wolf.
4. Chat with real native speakers
Go on a website like Italki and find other people for language exchanges. Find someone who speaks Italian natively and wants to learn English. Correct some of their notebook posts to get a feel for who they are, and then message them to talk about chatting via Skype or Google Hangout.
It can be a little weird at first since you don’t know the person, but use your good judgment to ensure you’re talking with somebody you actually want to be friends with.
5. Eat the food
Print out recipes in Italian and English and whip up some authentic Italian dishes. You’ll learn the words for food (which everyone needs to know), and you’ll be fed in the process.
These five tips will create a pleasurable language learning process, and when you learn a foreign language, windows, doors and gates open themselves for you. It could be a job overseas in Torino, Italy, or you could just decide to let go of searching so hard for a job and teach English abroad in Taiwan.
In the process of following your passion to learn a language, you might discover that the job you’re pining after isn’t for you. It’s quite possible you were meant for something off the beaten path, where you have permission to chase your wanderlust as often as you’d please.
You won’t know until you make that first decision. Your journey is up to you.
So choose a language, relax into the culture and let the doors open around you!
Cher Hale is an instigator of adventure and romance on her blog The Iceberg Project, where she teaches women how to charm Italians with their own language and chase their wanderlust.