Thursday, 12 January 2012 2:11 PM
Learning a foreign language is something that can serve you well in life. From improving your job prospects to making travelling through overseas destinations easier, you'll find you are able to communicate with people more easily. However, perhaps the best way to pick up a new language is to do so in a country where it is spoken by the locals.
By choosing to learn a language abroad, you can be taught a new tongue by those who actually speak it.
Of course, it is possible to take classes in Spanish and other foreign languages in the UK, but by enrolling on courses set in the countries where they are spoken by the natives, the words and phrases you'll learn can be used both inside and outside the classroom.
As well as taking daily lessons at a language school, you can also go on sightseeing excursions of the country where you can put what you have learnt into practice. With your skills speaking and writing the language gradually increasing, you'll be able to go about everyday activities – such as shopping at local markets or watching a film at the cinema – and interact with locals.
In doing so, you'll also get to experience life as a local in the destination you are visiting, rather than staying in tourist-populated areas where you will often be able to get by with English.
By having expert tuition and living with a host family during the course of your studies, you should be able to pick up the language at a pace that suits you, and if there are any particular questions you have or areas you want to know more about, getting the help you need should be quite easy.
Once your course is complete, you may be provided with a certificate as proof of your new skills. As having an understanding for a language other than English can stand you in good stead both personally and professionally, taking such classes can make for an exciting, yet educational, gap year for grown-ups.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating places to learn a new language is Ecuador. Taking a course here means not only will you be taught Spanish by a native with significant teaching experience, but also means you are well-placed to see some of the South American country's most breathtaking attractions.
Among these is Otavalo, a bustling market town where you'll be able to buy everything from ponchos to decorative wall art. With your newly-acquired language skills, make sure you try and haggle with traders in order to get the best deals.
Alternatively, you may be able to spend some time in the thermal springs of Papallacta, where you can relax in pools of steaming water while taking in magnificent views of the Andes mountain range.
Guatemala can also be a fantastic place to learn Spanish and get a greater appreciation for Latin American culture.
In addition to being taught the language in the classroom, you'll also get the chance to take lessons in salsa dancing and see historic attractions. Come to the city of Antigua to learn Spanish and you will have the opportunity to take in sights such as Palacio de los Capitanes, Saint Joseph Cathedral and the 18th-century La Merced Church.
No matter where you go, taking career breaks to learn a new language in an exotic overseas destination will leave you with skills and experiences you will cherish for many years to come.