How To Learn A Language As An Expat

These are our ways to learn a new language as an expat.

Living a semi-nomadic life as ESL teachers has enabled our goal to travel the world without necessarily having the funds to travel without working.


With that comes the stark realisation that as native English speakers we are privileged, certainly within this realm of work. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to learn the local lingo though!

Having met expats with no confidence to learn their new local language, we want to encourage those who are scared or anxious about the process of learning by giving some ideas on how to get started.

1. YouTube Tutorials

Looking for YouTube tutorials is as easy as 1,2,3. There are guides to anything you want to do – sewing, craft-making, cooking so why not use it to learn a new language?! There are people with channels dedicated to helping you learn and we find it especially helpful for pronunciation.

In Italy we would watch music videos to listen to Italian songs and use the lyrics as a means to learn more colloquial words and phrases. We even use Ted Talks we find online to teach our English classes as conversation starters. It’s a useful language tool!

2. Language App

When you’re living in a place you are exposed to the local lingo every time you go outside. You’re learning in an immersive environment.

Having a language app like Duolingo has helped us construct basic sentences and everyday speech. It’s not best used solely on its own but we have found it a great tool to top up the knowledge we have and practice in our own time.

3. Tutor/Class

We teach English and if you work for a school they will probably provide a local language class. Being taught in this kind of environment is obviously a great way to learn.

For some people a class night not be the best solution though. It might be worth seeking out a private tutor (ask on expat groups via Facebook) and go at your own pace.

Either way a dedicated learning routine once or twice a week will give you a confidence boost!

4. Language Exchange/Café

Immersive learning doesn’t have to mean going to a bar and ordering a beer, it can be ordering a beer then sitting with someone and having a conversation in your preferred language!


These kinds of events are our favourite kind of learning. They’re a casual setting, a mix of internationals and locals and it’s getting you used to a language in the real world.

You’ll often find these events on expat Facebook pages/groups or see them advertised while you’re out and about, maybe in an internationals bar or community centre.


Here are some useful links to get you started:

Learn French in 5 Days – One of many YouTube channels dedicated to learning a language!

Duolingo Language App

Babbel Language App

Facebook is useful for finding Expat groups and pages which is also a great resource for finding yourself a language tutor or language exchanges in your area.

Use a combination of these recommendations to get you started and we promise you’ll see results!

Even our tired old brains managed to learn basic Italian in a summer so we promise you can achieve something even if it’s just the basics you’ll feel better for it.

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