A surefire way to improve your skills

Moving into with a host family for four or five months can seem pretty daunting.  Before I even touched down in France, I had a lot of questions about what to expect:  Would they like me? How close would we become?   What if my host mom was a horrible cook?

 

Each host family is different, so I can’t tell you exactly how your experience will be.  But, if you’re on the fence about the issue, I definitely recommend that you go for it—there are so many advantages to living with a host family!  So go ahead, take the plunge into what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable immersive experience.

 

There’s no better way to learn a new language than by moving in with a host family for a few months.  You’ll be reinforcing in the home what you’re learning in the classroom—which I’m sure you’ve already know is essential after years and years of homework.  And while some of us may have dropped the ball on a few homework assignments here and there, living with a host family is like an assignment you can’t ignore (ahem, “forget about”).  You gotta communicate, right?

My host family: (left to right) Antoine, me, Gaelle, Thibault, and Arnaud

Living with a family means that you’ll constantly be listening and speaking in your target language.  You’ll be telling your host parents about your day.  Asking them questions and responding to theirs.  Making plans and getting advice on what to see when you travel.  In short, you won’t have any other choice but to improve your language skills, and sometimes that kind of pressure is exactly what’s necessary when you’re trying to learn a language!

In my experience, I always found that I learned the most (linguistically speaking) around the table.  While I understood my teachers pretty well, I found myself lost at dinnertime; so much slang was thrown around that my head was spinning for the first few weeks.  (I’m pretty sure this is the same in a lot of places.  Do you speak the same way with your friends as you do with your teachers?)  There will be times when you won’t know what’s being discussed—and that’s OK!  Ask your family what they’re talking about.  Show them what you have followed from the conversation, and what isn’t making sense to you.  They’ll appreciate that you’re trying to learn, and most likely they’ll be impressed by how much you’ve understood.

A backyard BBQ with my host bro

And if your host parents correct you when you speak, be glad!  Even though I became pretty fluent in French, my host parents were correcting me until my last night in their home.  Just remember, they chose to bring you into their home so that they could teach you, so take advantage of that.

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Sep 25, 2021 @ 15:47
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Calling all API alumni! We know you have some amazing photos from your time abroad with API and guess what?! You now have the chance to win up to $500 cash for showing them off in our 2021 API PHOTO CONTEST!
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