Learning a new language is a long, difficult process. As I write this, I’ve been studying my fiancé’s language on and off for more than a year. Studying his language with a bit of help from him has been far less painful (and far more romantic!) than the hours I spent in college language classes.
I recently stumbled across an article called “Five Reasons Dating Abroad is the Best Way to Learn a Language”. The author’s third reason, below, is my personal favorite benefit of learning a language from a boyfriend or girlfriend instead of in the classroom.
Third, the breadth and depth of you language ability will surprise you. If you are dating a native, you will learn words and expressions that no other foreigner in the Greek as a Second Language class is learning. The language becomes not only a mode of communication, but also a living connection to the world around you. In this way, the country becomes less foreign and its people more accessible when you are able to spit out a few colloquialisms gleaned from your lover-teacher.
This is absolutely true. You learn real colloquial language, not just the outdated slang that textbooks give you as examples of informal language. By listening to your spouse, you can pick up the most commonly used phrases that your textbook may not include.
The best thing about having a boyfriend or girlfriend with a different first language, though, is the motivation it gives you to learn the language. Not only does your partner speak that language, but so do their friends, parents and grandparents. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!
Of course, you cannot force your partner to be a full time teacher–I’m guessing that wouldn’t be enjoyable for either of you. Instead, you may want to take a course and supplement it with help from your partner. Alternately, you can self-study with various courses and practice with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Learning a language is hard, but help from a lover can make it easier.