If you studied a language while abroad, you'll probably want to do everything you can, once you're back, to maintain the new level of fluency you've developed. As difficult as it was to insist on speaking that other language on your program, even with other native English speakers, it will be that much more difficult once you¹re back in the States but it can be done.
We list below a few ways to do this:
- If it's a language taught at Wesleyan, take upper-level courses in the language. If Wesleyan doesn¹t teach it formally, contact the Language Resource Center about setting up a Self-Instructional Language Program or using other resources.
- Make a point of attending lectures, parties, and other events on campus related to the language. Many language departments invite speakers not only to a lecture, but to a dinner with faculty and interested students. Some ask majors to give a presentation in the target language about their experience abroad (and others might be encouraged to do so), Several departments hire Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs), who are in much the same situation as you were while abroad; it is both their job and their pleasure to speak with you in their native language.
- Rent videos and DVDs in the target language. If you¹re still struggling with the language, consider ones with subtitles in English but if you can manage without that, so much the better.
- Arrange a weekly lunch or coffee with other returnees and international students from countries where the target language is spoken. This gives you the added benefit of spending time with people who, like you, are dealing with "re-entry shock" and re-adjusting to Wesleyan after studying abroad.
Contact Alice Hadler, Associate Dean for International Student Affairs, about connecting with international students, and Gail Winter about connecting with returned study-abroaders.
- Look for summer and on-campus jobs that will allow you to use the language. By the same token, consider selecting paper and thesis topics for which you will need to read or do research in the target language.
- Online newspapers and magazines are a good way to keep up with what's happening in your host country. Olin may well have fiction or other books in the target language, so make some time for pleasure reading, too. You may well be able to order books from your host country online.
- Staying in touch with your homestay family, professors, local friends, your program director, and others you met abroad is a great opportunity not only to keep up with the language, but to maintain the friendships and contacts you developed. Many study abroad participants go back to their host countries to visit, work, or do research, and of course those visits are much nicer when you have people you care about to see!
- Especially if you have a car or access to transportation, find ways to connect to the expatriate community from your host country here. Consulates in Boston and New York may organize social and cultural events from time to time, so call and ask if there's a mailing list for this. Contact Wesleyan's Center for Community Partnerships about the possibility of organizing events with, host-country nationals in and around Middletown or Central Connecticut. As one example, you may want to ask about connecting with public schools to help teach the language and culture of your host country to local students.