3 Challenges Expatriates Face when Learning a Language Virtually

Congratulations! You have just been given a new assignment in a different country. You’ve always wanted to experience a new culture, so here is your chance to grow professionally and personally. Soon you will become an expatriate, but how will you handle this transition?

After two months, you find yourself in your host country, and you can’t wait to immerse yourself in the culture. You’ve thought about all the places you want to visit and the food you want to taste. Yet, as excited as you might be, you are hesitant to venture too far outside because you don’t speak the language. Since you only know a few words, you find yourself a little too embarrassed to ask others for help because you don’t want to say the wrong thing.  You make the decision to invest in some type of language training course, but what type of class will fit your schedule as well as your needs?

Since you really need language training more than anything else, you decide to learn more about remote learning because of the flexibility. Yet, taking a virtual course can be a challenge.  However, as an expatriate who is relocating for business and must learn a new language to successfully complete the job and have more mobility, the option to learn online is convenient and can be successful. You just need to be aware of the challenges and how to overcome them. With this knowledge and some motivation, you will soon discover the many new experiences and connections you can make on this amazing adventure as an expatriate.

Learning on a Screen can Feel Unnatural.

Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are essential when communicating. When you attempt to learn a new language, you must immerse yourself in all types of communication. Learning virtually may cause you to miss out on key communications between you and your instructor and you and your classmates. If you cannot see members in your class or even the instructor because the cameras are turned off, you miss out on facial expressions and hand gestures.  Much of our communication is connected to our body language. If the camera is not on and you are only a passive participant as the instructor speaks, you are not engaging in all aspects of communication. At the beginning of learning a new language, learners are often embarrassed about speaking for fear of sounding funny or making mistakes but you must interact. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and become immersed in the back and forth of conversation and interaction.

But after finding the perfect virtual learning course, your work is still not complete. Another key to success is making sure you have the right learning from home set up. This should include a desk, ergonomic chair, supplies, and organizers in case you need to take notes for later reference. These are the tools that can make all of the difference at the start of your language journey.

Building Relationships is More Difficult

As an ex-pat, you understand the importance of building relationships and connecting with people in your host country. Yet, when learning online, it is difficult to connect with others. The day to day talking and interacting with people from your host country helps build the basic phrases you need to be successful. If you were attending a face-to-face class, you would have a few minutes before class begins to practice the language and connect with people. Then, after a face-to-face class, students often get together for a meal or drink. These relationships are essential when trying to learn a language within the limited time you are assigned to your new location.

Since virtual lessons do not typically have a built-in time for small talk or opportunities to build relationships, you must find a virtual language course that understands the importance of working with others when trying to learn phrases, vocabulary, and culture. In addition to an online language course, you may want to consider cross-cultural training where skills focus on how to thrive in an environment with multiple cultures.

BiCortex Languages is a language school that understands the need for interaction. They offer virtual learning as well as face-to-face language training.  You can even learn in small groups with people from all over the world. These vital interactions will help you accomplish your learning goals even faster.

You Need Patience and Motivation

When you are given a global assignment and do not have the language skills, you will need patience when taking a virtual course to learn the language. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying English, French, Russian or Chinese; learning any language requires time and motivation. You will have flexibility when attending a virtual class, making it easy to fit your schedule; however, this flexibility may prevent you from attending classes or practicing your skills if you are not motivated to learn. To learn quickly, you will need to commit to the process, attend classes, practice the language, and dive into your host country’s culture.

Your patience will help you remain stress-free. As you learn about the culture, you will see that you cannot expect your own culture to be evident in your host culture. For example, you cannot expect your four-hour Italian dinners to be the norm in the USA. So, enjoy the newness as you learn online and through experiences. You will come out as a more rounded individual with even stronger professional skills.

As an expatriate, you will have the privilege of interacting with people of a different culture. When you can speak the language, you become a local and connect with people on a deeper level. Through connection and interaction, you can avoid the loneliness that often accompanies ex-pats as they adapt to their surroundings. Your mind opens up both literally and figuratively as you become aware of different perspectives and become immersed in a different community.  Look closely at virtual language classes to find those that work best for you.


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