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Get Out of Your Second Language Comfort Zone (Part I)

One thing I have noticed while travelling is that it is easy to slip into a comfort zone with your second language. There appear to be plenty of people out there who have a reasonable grasp of the basics of a language but who never seem to push themselves enough to further their knowledge. So how can you do this?

Don’t Use Your Native Tongue as an Emergency Backup

One problem can be if you often practise with a foreign language speaker who knows your native language. After getting frustrated by your attempts to find the right word for a while they might say something like, “Just say it in English”. This might be convenient at first but it is an approach which will stop you from learning as well as you should. A better idea is to use words in the language you are learning to explain yourself, even if it is in a roundabout way. For example, in my days when I was avoiding the Spanish word veterinario (I couldn’t pronounce it right for some reason) I could say that it is a person who looks after sick animals rather than saying “vet” in English. Once you get to a certain level in your new tongue you should never have to resort to explaining yourself in your native language for anything, no matter how complicated the subject is. Speaking frequently to native speakers like your Listen & Learn teachers is one great way of becoming more confident at doing this.