How You Can Travel and Practice Languages (for very cheap)
A lot of people tell us they want to travel (or even work in another country) and improve their French, but they’re not sure how to go about it.
While it’s definitely no easy task, if you’re determined enough there are plenty of ways you can accomplish this, even if you don’t have a whole lot of money.
*Note: I’m going to mention how this applies specifically to French throughout this blog, but these principals could apply to just about any language you’re trying to practice.
Couchsurfing.com is a site for travelers and it’s kind of like Facebook, only the point is to meet new people. The idea is, if you’re traveling in a foreign country you can sleep over at a local’s place, or if you like, you can have someone traveling in your country stay over at your place. I personally have done both and found it to be an incredible experience. I’ve met people from all over the world and some of them have become really close friends.
I even met Maïa (the other half of StreetFrench.org) on this site.
So let’s say you’re traveling in a foreign country, you would go on this site (after you’ve created a profile of course) and you’d see if there is anyone in that country willing to let you stay at their place for a while.
It’s not just about staying at someone’s house to save some money, it’s about making new friends, sharing culture, practicing languages, etc…
It sounds kind of weird in theory, but I promise it’s a lot less strange in practice. There’s a reference system so you could see how many people someone has hung out with in the past and these people then vouch for them so it’s kind of like meeting a friend of a friend.
They also have events and they’re great places to meet French speakers! I used to go to a lot of events when I was more active in the couch surfing scene.
The World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an international network of organic farms where you can work in exchange for lodging and food, and there are also opportunities to learn about ecology and farming, among other things. Work days are usually about 5-6 hours.
I’ve met a few people who’ve done it and they said they loved it! A typical stay on a farm could last anywhere from a few days to a few years. This is great for people who would like to spend some time in a foreign country, but don’t necessarily have the finances to do it.
Workaway is a platform where people can find hosts and work at their place in exchange for lodging and food. It’s a lot like WWOOF and it’s a great way for budget travelers to immerse themselves in a new culture or practice their foreign language skills.
I have a friend who did this in France. He told me the host family was very nice and he spent most of his time doing some light farm work, feeding the family’s goats, and playing with the children. He also said it was pretty easy and he had a fair amount of free time.
Being an Au Pair can be a great option, though I’ve heard it can be difficult for a man to find an Au Pair position (still worth a shot though, right?!).
You’re basically a “domestic assistant”, meaning you take care of children and do housework in exchange for lodging. You’re also paid and even though it generally doesn’t pay very well, it should be enough to live off of fairly comfortably.
I’ve known a few people who’ve done it and they said they had great experiences, but I’ve also heard some horror stories as well. I really recommend you go through some kind of agency, though there are a lot of them out there so make sure you do your research!
While I was studying at Middlebury this summer, I met a girl named Edwina and she has a website where she helps Au Pairs in Paris. They can help you find a host family, get a visa, figure out logistics, etc…
Check out Edwina’s site or her Instagram and make sure you tell her Charlie from StreetFrench.org sent you ;)
English teacher (or another language)
Being an English teacher (or teaching another foreign language) can be a great option! There are some requirements though. Usually you need at least a bachelor’s degree (or whatever the equivalent would be in your country).
I was a lecteur d’anglais (English teacher) at the university level for 2 years in France. It was an amazing experience! I explain what it was like and how you can find a job like that on our YouTube channel.
There’s also the Tapif program, which is like being a language assistant at a middle school or high school. It doesn’t pay extremely well, but it’s a great way to spend some time in a foreign country while getting some teaching experience.
Also if English isn’t your native language, I know you might also be able to teach other languages like Spanish, German, etc…
Lastly, you could study abroad. People always send us messages asking us how they could study in France and it’s a very difficult question to answer as it depends on what you want to study, where you want to study, how well you speak French, finances, etc…
I suppose there are 2 options:
If you’re currently a student, see if your school has a study abroad program (this is what I did when I studied in Paris)
Apply directly to a French school
This is going to take a lot of research and there’s no one size fits all answer. Studying in a foreign country can be complicated, but if you’re really dedicated I’m sure you could make it happen.
And if you need extra help, we have our Friend in France service. We can go over your specific situation and come up with the best plan to get you to France! Just send us an email and we can set that up an appointment.