While universities and language schools will provide you with support, structure and an interactive classroom, independent learning also has its advantages. Whichever method you choose, your skills can be built on by working abroad. Immersing yourself in another culture is undoubtedly the best way to become truly proficient.
For undergraduates, regardless of degree, most universities will offer language courses. For those outside the university system, language schools usually offer 30-60 hour courses, spread over a number of weeks and available at convenient times.
Self-teaching courses are available in a wide variety of languages and media, from DVDs and CD-ROMs to audio-cassettes and textbooks.
Aside from on-line courses, the Internet is an important resource for interactive quizzes, language games and other information about languages. In addition, on-line newspapers are an excellent way of practising your skills and catching up with the news each morning in another language.
This involves a partnership of two native speakers, working together through correspondence (e-mail/telephone, etc). It is autonomous, with both of you deciding what you want to learn, but is also reciprocal, with both parties sharing their language learning objectives at the outset.
Not only will employers be impressed by the initiative and self-reliance demonstrated by working abroad, it will give you an understanding of different social, political and economic perspectives.
However, it is important to select a job that is suited to your knowledge of the host country’s language. This will help to ensure that your stay there is as beneficial as possible.