Languages and Gap Year
How did languages influence your Gap Year experience and viceversa? Have any of you learned a language just to be able to spend your gap year (working, etc...) in a country? What's your experience? Tell me your stories.
I want to have a Gap Year when I finish highschool, so in about 1 year... The problem is that some countries require you to speak the language at least to an intermediate level. Is it wise to try to learn a language in a few weeks/months just to spend a few months working somewhere? (just to repeat the process again for another language?)
For those who don't know:
Gap Year: "a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between school and university or college education".
I have not yet started my Gap Year, but I will do so very soon, as I am going to receive my leaving certificate in two days :)
I will do a beginner's Icelandic Course in Iceland (Icelandic is by far my favourite language), and then I will work in lovely Ireland for a few months. My English is quite good, but it never hurts to practice a little bit!
To answer your questions concerning the language requirements in some countries: What do you want to do abroad? If you plan to do an Au-pair stay, then you can do a language course in your host country (in many cases it is expected from the au-pair to do a course).. I know from my sister that some families even pay your course fee. If it is only "normal" working, e.g. hostel work, farm work or whatever, then it will certainly help if you already speak the language a little bit, especially when you are working with natives or when you are working with others. I would recommend to learn at least the very basics of the language and try to learn as much as possible in the country itself.
I will also spend a few months in Nepal, and I am very curious and excited to learn some phrases in Nepali :)
I've met a person who had a gap year during her high school and spent half of it studying in Germany in German, and the other half studying in the Czech Republic in Czech. It was obvious she enjoyed it and draw a lot of value from the experience.
Of course you should learn the language(s) beforehand, no matter what the official requirements are. I was on Erasmus with people speaking the language at very different levels. I don't know why those on the low levels even applied. A few months of intensive work (that means definitely not just Duolingo) can get you well inside the intermediate levels in european languages (probably not in Mandarin or Arabic).
Based on my foreign study stays (at various levels of language skills): Every bit of language skill you learn before going will pay off! Of course you will still have tons to learn. But good preparation can make your life in the country much easier and enjoyable. And it can save you from forming bad habits and closing yourself to the English speaking bubble.
Not necessarily. But if you have a gap year after you finish highschool, you do start college one year after the ones who started college as soon as they graduated highschool.
But it's not a lost year. It's an year to get to know yourself better and see the world, while developing skills and getting a better idea of who you are and what you really want to do.