Learning anything takes time. We all know this and being prepared for it is the very first step in any endeavor.
Yet, spending time on a task is not all which is required to improve. You could learn and review things within your comfort zone for years on end and never truly reach greatness.
This fact is particularly visible when it comes to language learning.
While the first step are, by design, outside of our comfort zone due to the newness of said language, we quickly start spending time on knowledge barely outside of what we already know.
This has its own advantages as it allows us to stretch our brain just enough to remember easily the newly studied matter, but it reduces drastically the potential results we could get by really going out of our way to make it difficult.
Here are the 2 best ways to really push yourself out of the comfort zone and improve a whole lot while experiencing a new culture.
As says the title, this should be unexpected.
But at the same time, if it really were, then you couldn’t willingly put yourself in such situations, would you?
What is important here is to get yourself in situations which you willingly underestimated.
In 2010, I went to Korea and started my trip with a three-week-long experience WWOOFing in the countryside in a high-school, living with the students who could barely speak English.
I knew it was going to be difficult, but as the school was offering this kind of experience I somehow expected some people to be rather proficient in English.
How little did I know! Even the principal’s English was deceptively bad so I had no choice but to up my skills drastically to survive those 3 weeks.
After these, though, the young adult who came in and could understand sentences but not conversations was now able to hold pretty much any kind of mundane conversations!
I even spent a weekend at a student’s house talking with the parents in Korean as if I had been able to do so forever!
Was I expecting this experience to be hard? Yes. Was I thinking it’d be that hard? Definitely not! The first week was hell but got me to stop relying on my little knowledge and actually learn faster.
Research obscure things
Everything can be found online nowadays, and that’s the beauty of this (relatively) new advancement in technology.
However, despite being able to find a whole lot in English, there will always be some subcultures or facts which can only be found in the target language of your choice.
I live in Japan and like travelling and finding new, hidden, gems which most travelers won’t even know exist. Whether it be a café, a small river, a mountain, etc.
While you could look for those in English, I have found most of the real gems are only written in Japanese.
Also, when I first came back to Japan, I looked for a guesthouse in a specific area next to my new job but they all seemed packed. Then I tried searching in Japanese and found another guesthouse, only 5 minutes by foot away from my workplace!
While searching in your target language, you might encounter challenges but those are exactly what I mean by getting out of your comfort zone.
There are many more ways to get out of your comfort zone but here’s a little challenge for you:
Why don’t you look for those other ways in your target language?