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How To Learn Languages In North America

The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it fully - that way it’s infused with the culture and you get a far more holistic experience, plus you can pick up the slang and modern terminology that means you don’t sound like you learned to speak from a cd. Many people choose to take regular holidays in a country to try and pick it up in stages, if relocating isn’t an option.
It’s probably easier to do in North America than you might think, because it’s a country built on immigration, and there are many enclaves where communities of people retain the language of their country of origin as well as speaking English. Naturally the French spoken in Montreal, for example, will have several differences to that spoken in Paris. But if you want to learn while in Canada, you should be able to get by quite easily in France as well. Here are some of the country’s most common secondary languages, and where best to learn them.


Mandarin is the official language of China, and as the country opens up to the West, it is increasingly being taught in schools.There are various Chinese dialects spoken throughout America, and over 2.5 million residents speak them. The best places to find a large Chinese community are California and New York.


Lucky French-students. French is widely spoken in three of North America’s most interesting and beautiful places - Maine, on the north-east coast, is one of New England’s most attractive states, offering stunning scenery and great seafood. Montreal, in Canada, is a very pleasant city, with a great social scene, especially for music-lovers. And Louisiana in the south, where French immigrants contributed greatly to the Creole culture, is a place of smouldering beauty, as well as fantastic food and culture.


Spanish is pretty much America’s second language, given the huge Hispanic populations around the country. It’s not uncommon to find areas of cities that have only Spanish street-signs, such is their prevalence. Although you can learn Spanish in many places, I would suggest Little Havana in Florida is a great place to start - great weather, a strong Cuban vibe, and the people are very welcoming.


Many notable American personages, among them Marlon Brando and several Presidents, can claim Dutch ancestry. In fact, New York was once known as New Amsterdam before it was captured by the English and renamed. Dutch-speaking communities are mainly clustered around the east and west coasts, with the largest being found in California.


Over a million Americans speak German at home. There used to be a far larger proportion but after the two World Wars it’s usage shrank greatly. Also the ease with which German people have integrated into American culture has also seen a reduction in use of the language. Again, there are many states where one might find a community to become immersed in, but by far the most interesting would be a Pennsylvania Amish community. The trouble is, they don’t particularly like the presence of outsiders, so that would be pretty hard to arrange.


The Italian-American community is still very visible, especially in New York, but relatively few people speak the language at home now. Many tours from New York will afford the opportunity to visit friendly Little Italy, and you’re bound to pick up a few phrases of the local lingo - Bada-bing Bada-boom!
There are of course dozens of other languages you will regularly hear snatches of throughout America - in taxicabs, stores, and restaurants, such as Vietnamese, Indian, Finnish and Russian. No other country is such a melting-pot of different cultures that it offers the same scope for learning new languages.
Rob learned to speak fluent Montreal French over a period of three years in Canada.

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