How to Practice Conversation in a Foreign Language without going Abroad

You can practice conversation in a foreign language faster by going abroad. However, what if you can’t go abroad due to personal commitments?


Stefano Lodola

By Stefano Lodola

It is a given that you can learn a foreign language faster by going abroad, as you can only speak in a particular language. That’s ideal to practice conversation in a foreign language. However, what if you are in a situation where you can’t go abroad due to personal commitments? Does that mean you give up on your dreams to learn a foreign language and become fluent in it?

No. Because there are several ways you can continue to practice your conversational skills. Here are six ways you can practice conversation and learn a foreign language without going abroad:

Attend language exchange events

Many mid-large cities have language exchange events. There are various kinds of events called “language exchange”. Basically, any event that encourages speaking foreign languages with foreigners is a language exchange event. That’s how in the Far-East many international parties with white guys flirting with local girls could is called that way (I’ve been to some in Taipei, Taiwan). Although I myself am a serial flirter, I also like studying languages in a more systematic way. Anyway, any motivation is good to practice conversation in a foreign language.

“Serious” language exchange events are typically between one language and another (i.e. “English-Chinese language café”, “Italian-German tandem dinner”) or, if are open to multiple languages, have a table for each language, where people gather to speak that language and that only. At some events people sit down and is more like a study group, in others you exchange leisurely conversations standing hold a wine glass. Good examples are Speakeasy in Berlin and Polyglot Cafè in Taipei.

Resist the temptation to switch to your language, stick with your target language, and results will come at once. In Berlin, I used to go to an Italian-German language exchange event every few weeks, and all the Italians were speaking Italian, many were even speaking with other Italians only! I was the only one pesting all the Germans and taking notes. Everybody was amazed at the progress I made from week to week, and yet they kept chatting in Italian.

Change the settings on your apps and smartphone

When you use your smartphone, you generally configure the language to your native language. If you want to practice the art of conversation, while learning new words at the same time, you should change it to a foreign language. Even though this change is simple, it creates an immersive experience, encouraging you to complete your goal of learning a foreign language.

Find a partner

Another great way to practice your conversational skills is to find a partner. Thanks to improvements in technology, you can talk to anyone in the world from the comfort of your home. It isn’t necessary that the partner should be a teacher because you just need to practice having friendly conversations. That’s already enough to practice conversation in a foreign language.

Immersion is key when you want to learn a new foreign language. Use these techniques every day, so that it becomes a part of your daily routine.

As time goes by, you will get the hang of the foreign language, allowing the words to flow naturally. You will also learn colloquial phrases, which will make you sound like a native.

Label everything in your house

The house is one place where you spend a large portion of your time. Why don’t you convert it into a learning hub so that you can be productive, while you go about your day? Take time off and start labeling everything in your house with the help of post-it notes. By going through these notes every day, you will learn the foreign language faster than expected. Talk to yourself and it’s like practicing conversation in a foreign language.

Listen to the radio and podcasts

Another way to practice conversation is to listen to the radio and podcasts in the foreign language. The advantage of using these types of media is that you can listen to them while you are on the go. Also, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them, as most of the material is free. Yes! You can practice conversation in a foreign language for free.

Start reading

Why don’t you start living like a local so that you can get the complete immersive experience while learning the foreign language. For starters, find out which news channel is popular among the natives of the foreign language and follow the same. Not only will you be able to increase your vocabulary, but it will also act as a confidence booster.

Turn speaking into a daily routine

These are six ways you can continue to practice conversation in a foreign language without going abroad. Remember, immersion is key when you want to learn a new foreign language. Make it a point to use these techniques every day, so that it becomes a part of your daily routine. With a little persistence, you will surprise yourself by learning the foreign language quickly!

Stefano Lodola lecturing about learning languages

Do you want a complete guide on how to learn a foreign language?

The pictures shown in this article are slides taken from my on-demand course on Udemy “Fluent. Simple. My proven quick-start guide to learn any foreign language”. There I share what I actually do to learn foreign languages, in the form of a presentation based on contents that I usually show in polyglot clubs.

After this quick-start guide, you’ll know exactly what to do from day one. I put popular tools and personal tips together into a complete language workout for your brain. These tools can be used to learn a language in the spare time that you have each day and can be applied without going abroad.

This is not a generic guide: I only recommend methods and materials that I actually use myself and find useful. This treasure of life experience will spare you years of ineffective studies.

The course includes:

  • My experience as a language learner
  • Links to select learning resources
  • Study methods and tips
  • Advice to draft your study plan

To make sure that you’ll actually put that into practice, the course comes with the option to book a 30-minute consultation on Skype (not included in the course enrollment fee). We’ll discuss your study plan and I’ll answer any questions that you may have.

Click here to read the course program and watch the free preview.

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Meet your language coach

As a language learner, I was raised speaking only Italian, but now I speak nine foreign languages.

As a teacher, I’ve taught Italian to adults in language schools and universities.

I’ve lectured in polyglot clubs and coached students on their way to fluency.

I’m eager to share my secrets with you.

Stefano Lodola

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