Okay, so here is a question for you:
Why are you learning a foreign language?
Think about it for a second.
Is it travel-related?
Let's hope so! Travelling truly is one of the great benefits that can come out of language learning. You all know what I mean - the culture-specific words, the calendar events, the different ways a conversation will go. Experiencing life abroad is a dream for so many of us. The dream contains new beginnings, promises of success and amazing experiences. So with that in mind, what are we supposed to make out of this statistic?
Why wouldn't you do it?
Studying abroad has excellent benefits, such as improved language skills, employability and a whole new outlook on your life and career. So what's holding students back? Of course, we can partly blame this on a lack of language skills among university students. Some students might just not find themselves ready to spend a lot of time abroad, and others still will hesitate because it's not that cheap to spend a year abroad. (Phew, thank the EU for Erasmus grants!).
The role of the destination
In the study, this particular fact caught my eye: 29 per cent of UK students considering studying overseas selected the US as their first choice destination. Of course the ties between institutions in the US and the UK are strong and the language barrier is as low as it can be. But is there another factor at work?
I certainly think so. There is one fact that's equally true for studying abroad and language learning: We need more destination PR! In a world of carrying the internet in your handbag, it's not good enough to hope the saga of foreign lands will kick anyone into action. [Click to tweet this]
Secrets of ongoing motivation
I worked in marketing for ages and I learnt that the most important question for promoting something is "Why?". Just as with role models, destinations need to become more enticing and more obvious so that we can really feel we're setting our sights on something. Every language learner needs a reason to persevere when the dip hits. Weathering that is one of the keys to success, and I believe that learning more about the destination will keep you going.
In terms of action and practice, this means surrounding yourself with what you find interesting about the place and the people. Tourist brochures, films and radio stations are great - and of course native speaker friends will be even better!
If we're supposed to become true global citizens and boost numbers of language learners and students studying abroad, we will have to put as much into destination PR as we can.
Some interesting articles on this topic: