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To move to a country where I don’t know the language?

55 replies

Ribrabrob · 17/11/2019 06:37

I want to move to a country that I love and have visited regularly. This country is fairly easy to get a visa for (although not in the EU) so that’s not really a problem. I will need to work there eventually, however fortunately this isn’t a main priority and I will be able to get by for a little while without.

The thing is, is that I don’t speak the language - at all!

Aibu to move to a country whose language I do not know? Will it be easier to pick up while I’m living there, rather than just using apps and books etc (like I’m doing now). The language is one famous for being hard to learn! And I can’t say I’ve ever been too great at learning languages, even at school. However, it’s my dream to live in this country and I don’t want this to hold me back.

OP posts:
alreadyinchristmasmood · 17/11/2019 06:41

Are you a native english speaker? What language is it? How long can you afford not working while there?

GiveHerHellFromUs · 17/11/2019 06:41

Is it a country where a lot of nationals speak English - where you'll be able to communicate without speaking the native language?

Do you know basic words and phrases?

HulksPurplePanties · 17/11/2019 06:45

What's the business language and what job would you be in? If the working language is English you should be fine.

MsChatterbox · 17/11/2019 06:51

I know when I wanted to work in Spain in a restaurant they would not hire me unless I spoke the language. Even if customers may speak English, the systems etc will all be in the native language. If you can afford to not work for say a year then I would say do it.

SonEtLumiere · 17/11/2019 06:53

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EleanorShellstrop100 · 17/11/2019 06:55

I did! Nobody speaks English either. It’s fine, having a great time! Just use a translator and you’ll pick the language up in time.

BlouseAndSkirt · 17/11/2019 06:59

Visiting is one thing but will you actually enjoy loving there if you don’t speak the language?

Won’t you be forever trapped in an Expat bubble or be very isolated?

Also you discover a lot of nuances about a community when you speak the language and not all of it is as cosy as you thought . That was my experience when I grasped more if my ILs language.

MyOtherProfile · 17/11/2019 07:02

Put some effort in now. Nobody who speaks their mother tongue properly is and at languages - you just need to learn it like you learnt your mother tongue. Find a native speaker, look for a class, find a teacher online if there isn't one locally. Put the work in now to at least make a start.

Unless there's a big expat community to join you will always be an outsider without learning the language.

FriedasCarLoad · 17/11/2019 07:03

If you plan to work hard at learning the language, YANBU, although it will be quite a hard life, depending on the country and how widely English is spoken.

If you don’t intend to work hard at the language, YABVU.

mauvaisereputation · 17/11/2019 07:10

Impossible to know without more details. What's the country? What job will you do?

If you're happy to eg become an ESL teacher and hang out with ex-pats, then this is obviously fine.

Becoming fluent in a language - even a language like French or Italian that is relatively easy for an English speaker - takes an enormous amount of time and effort. If you're talking about a non-Indo-European language then it will take years. You would need a plan for how you would learn it -- probably involving full-time classes for a year or more to get you to a basic level (as if you are not a confident language-learner then you are going to struggle learning independently).

Giraffecantdanse · 17/11/2019 07:22

Assuming you're a native English speaker my advice would be to get a tefl qualification before you go. You can always teach English.
You can learn a language if you make the effort to. You have to put yourself out there... get some lessons but mainly get friends and immerse yourself. The Tefl will actually help you learn the foreign language as you'll understand your own.

I learnt Spanish from zero at 22 an French from nearly zero at 39.

Its still hard to get professional jobs in those languages, but because I didn't make the effort to learn to write.

SafetyAdvice0FeedWhenAgitated · 17/11/2019 08:05

I would recommend at least basics. You will need to deal with government at the begining and basic life things such as rental agreements etc.

It works for some to go with 0 knowledge, but it also doesn't work for many. Often the people I know have no local language knowledge survived because they got into their expat community. I know someone who lived in UK for nearly a decade and can put together maybe 10 sentences. Works with her people, lives with her people...

Knowing at least something and have some language base can make things MUCH easier.

Beesandcheese · 17/11/2019 08:08

Surely learning the language would be part of your plan? You would be setting yourself up for isolation if you didn't

Autumntoowet · 17/11/2019 08:10

Sign up for lessons now. Budget and go. If it doesn’t work out come back.
Do not hangout with English speakers.
I find it so odd as English is one of my second languages how people whose first language is English rely on this.
Someone up thread mentioning wanting to work in a restaurant in Spain without speaking Spanish?

I don’t get it.

Learn, give it a go, you can do it OP. Keep savings for Plan B.

ElloBrian · 17/11/2019 08:12

If you have some financial capacity to go and stay there for a while without working, then I would develop a two stage plan.

  1. cost out how long you can afford to be there for without a job, and make a plan to go and do that, while looking for a job and probably doing an intensive language course for a couple of weeks or more;
  2. if you get a job in that time, sorted; if not, have a back up plan and a clear deadline for when you will give up and come home and what you will do to get a job when you get back.

    It is do-able, a lot of the time being there on the ground throws up opportunities you wouldn’t have found before getting there, but you need a financial cushion and a plan B in case it doesn’t work out.
Booboostwo · 17/11/2019 08:34

Where will you be living? A large, cosmopolitan city with an expat community will be easier than a small town or the countryside. Is English spoken in the country you are moving to? Are there any job opportunities for English speakers who don't speak the native language?

Moving over may be a problem in itself if you do not speak the language, e.g. negotiating with estate agents and landlords, setting up a bank account, changing the electric/gas/water in your name, negotiating bureaucratic requirements for your visa, drivers license, etc. Can you afford a translator/relocation services?

Can you afford intensive language lessons? Why not start now? Skype tutoring is a very popular way of finding help with learning a new language.

coatlessinspokane · 17/11/2019 08:35

I think learning it from scratch in the actual country is the best way to learn it because that way you'll get an authentic accent.

I'm intrigued to know which language it is. Are you sure you can't tell us?!

SimonJT · 17/11/2019 08:41

We moved to the UK when I was eight, we came from a very small rural village and didn’t speak a word of English. My Dad (early 30’s) was fairly fluent within 18 months, it took my Mum a little longer as she isn’t a naturally social person.

My siblings and I were fairly fluent within the year. As a 31 year old I am still learning new English words, this often surprised people who know me IRL as I have a strong Nottinghamshire accent, so people forget that I’m non-native.

The best way to learn a new language is the only use that language, if you use English you will put yourself at a disadvantage and take longer to become fluent.

PositiveAttitude · 17/11/2019 08:48

I did!! It is so much easier to learn the language when you are immersed in it 24/7. Where we were there were very few people who spoke English. It was hard to start with, but I had such a feeling of relief and pride when I was able to talk in business meetings and get my view across and be understood. It's probably one of the things I am most proud of in my life. I say go for it!!!!

Grasspigeons · 17/11/2019 08:58

Is it a tonal language? My relatives found learning a tonal language very hard and didnt get far with it. But have happily lived there for years anyway.

Skysblue · 17/11/2019 09:08

Well if it’s Mandarin / Russian you’re gonna struggle, if it’s a Latin based language or similar you’ll be ok.

Start learning now tho. Get off mumsnet and onto youtube language videos and see how easy/hard you find it.

NearlySchoolTimeAgain · 17/11/2019 09:30

I've been living overseas in Europe for a year.

My friends are expats who all speak English.

A year later I can understand someone speaking simply and slowly and have a go at reading a paper but I struggle to speak. I will have a go when I have to but I've no doubt the words coming out are awful!

My DH works (I'm a SAHM) with people who all speak English. A year on he can barely speak / understand / read any of the local language.

The DC attend an International school but have lessons in the local language. The eldest is conversationally quite fluent - but he plays a sport with no fluent English speakers. The younger has better grammar than me, but similar levels of vocabulary and is reluctant to talk.

Crazy to move? No but it will be hard. And the language doesn't just happen without any effort (I've put in very very minimal effort).

JE17 · 17/11/2019 09:31

My Dh could not speak the language at all when we moved here. He did a 6 month intensive course at the local uni and we made sure to make friends with local people, not just other Brits. He's now fantastic at the language, enough so that he has managed to become a secondary school teacher here.

Lougle · 17/11/2019 09:36

My in-laws moved to France 15 years ago. FIL still can't speak French.

WorldEndingFire · 17/11/2019 09:46

As long as you are prepared to learn, and can manage with the struggles of potential initial isolation and issues finding employment when you are not yet literate in the language then of course YANBU.

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