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15 Language Learning Resources
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10. Visit a foreign language chat room

Visiting a foreign language chat room provides a more immediate opportunity to practice your language skills than a bulletin board, because a chat room engages speakers in synchronous or live communication.

There are free text chat and, increasingly, also voice chat sites available for language learners. Text chat rooms exist for learners and speakers of ESL, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Thai, Cantonese, and Persian, among others. There is a voice chat rooms for Cambodian.

Some general language sites help you find chat partners and/or provide a venue for live communication. UniLang Chatbox is a place you can meet others interested in languages, or where a prearranged online language encounter could be held. Polyglot or eTandem can help you find a language learning partner. You could use a text messaging program like AIM or Windows Messenger or Skype for video chat.

11. Plan a trip

Plan a trip to a country or region where the language is spoken. Not only will you get the chance to practice your language skills, but you'll also get to experience the culture and customs first-hand, from simple human interactions to eating habits, from daily routines to architecture.

While traveling to a place where the native language is a dominant and official language allows you to surround yourself with the language and culture, you might be surprised to find immersion opportunities closer to home. If you're learning French and cannot plan a trip to Europe or Africa, you still might be able to travel to Quebec. If you're learning Persian and a trip to Iran is not feasible, try visiting Los Angeles County, where more than a million Persian-speakers reside. Are you learning Chinese, but can't afford a trip to China? Try visiting one of the many Chinatown quarters of large American cities, such as New York or San Francisco. Such large cities often have ethnic quarters where you can immerse yourself the language and the culture of the people who speak it.

12. Study abroad

The absolute best way to get to know a language and culture like a native speaker is to live like one. Studying abroad for a semester or, even better, for a year allows you to be fully immersed in the target cultural and linguistic environment. You can get to know the ins-and-outs of daily life, learn first-hand how to negotiate common situations (shopping, taking the bus, mailing a letter, ordering at a restaurant, etc.), and gain an insider's perspective on the educational system. There are a myriad of possibilities, from short-term or summer study to year-long programs. If a formal study program won't work for you, you might choose instead to work abroad in an internship or work program. See our career resources pages for tips and ideas.

There are many common myths about studying abroad, and many people believe that it's not an option for them. It's not as hard as you might think! Check out our study abroad pages for tips and information. Whatever your situation, there is a way you can make your dream of living and studying in another country a reality.

TIP: Essential books for those intending to study abroad:

Study Abroad 101, by Wendy Williamson, 304 p. (2008)101 questions and answers about study abroad, from before you apply to after you return home. Covers such topics as: Narrowing Down the Options, Planning your Trip, Health and Safety Concerns, Managing Money Abroad, Life in Another Country, Living with the Locals, Keeping in Touch with Home, Life After Study Abroad, Top Secrets You Should Know.

Study Abroad: How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience, by Michele-Marie Dowell, Kelly P. Mirsky, 208 p. (2002) Once you've decided to embark on the study abroad journey, this book is a must. Reflecting on your experience is the single most important way to reap the greatest rewards of studying abroad and this book guides you in doing just that. It guides you through pre-departure, on-site, and re-entry phases of your experience, and stimulates personal development, learning about your own and the target culture and about learning languages in general, and encourages you to connect your experience to your career plans. A must-have for anyone planning to study abroad!

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