How to Learn a Language WITHOUT Travelling || Tips for Success

An Insider’s Guide on How to Learn a Language from the Comfort of Your Own Country

As a language learner, you have probably heard people say you need to spend time in the country where your target language is spoken, right?

🀄 For those of you learning Chinese, you could visit Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei Singapore and more.

And if you’re already in Asia, these trips should be easier and more affordable than if you’re in Europe or America. 

So, what do you do if you can’t travel?

First of all, don’t panic!

Although spending time in a country where your target language is spoken is really helpful, it isn’t the only way to learn a language. In this blog post, we will introduce multiple ways you can improve your language skills without travelling.


Learn a Language Without Travelling | Determine Your Language Learning Goals

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Choose Engaging Language Resources

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Immerse Yourself in Your Target Language

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Take Language Lessons Online or In-Person

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Make Friends With Native Speakers

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Join Local Cultural Activities

Learn a Language Without Travelling | Other Ideas

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Determine Your Language Learning Goals

Before you start looking for new resources, the best thing you can do is have clear goals in mind.

Write your goals down on a piece of paper and stick them on your computer, your bedroom door, or somewhere else where they are visible.

If you’re a creative person, you could make a mood board and stick your goals in the middle or buy yourself a journal.

To help determine your goals, consider the following questions:

  • What is your reason for learning your target language?
  • What is your current level and what level would you like to reach?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • How much time can you dedicate to your studies each week?

Once you have answered these questions, you can start looking for suitable resources and create a study schedule that will help you achieve your language goals.

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Choose Engaging Language Resources

It’s good to try a range of resources, but it’s also important that you enjoy learning a language.

Some people never use language textbooks and end up reaching a high level of fluency, whereas other students thrive in the classroom. Everyone is different and resources that work for some people might not work for others – and that’s okay!

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of resources available to you as a Chinese language student. 

You can take classes, read history books, or watch movies if you want to learn more about Chinese culture or you could look at how the Chinese language has changed over the years – from ancient Chinese poetry to the evolution of the writing system. 

For learning the language, good Chinese language resources shouldn’t be too difficult to find. There are many TV shows, movies, books, poems, and songs available to learners around the world and on various platforms. 

Where Can I Watch Chinese Movies?

Wondering where to watch Chinese movies and TV shows? We’ve got you covered. The LTL team have already written a blog post on this topic: 

Chinese Movies Online - LTL's Top 10 Chinese Streaming Sites Thumbnail

Chinese Movies Online – LTL’s Top 10 Chinese Streaming Sites

Find all the Chinese Movies Online and Chinese TV Shows you’ll ever need with Chinese Netflix and Chinese YouTube sites with LTL’s list of Chinese streaming

To start with, why not take a look on YouTube or Netflix? There are also Chrome extensions you can use to add subtitles to movies and TV shows.

Where Can I Buy Chinese Books?

If you’re an avid reader (like me!) there are thousands of books in Chinese. However, they’re not always easy to get hold of if you live outside of Asia – especially since Amazon shut down the wonderful Book Depository. But don’t worry, I have some tips for you on where to buy Chinese books. 

Prefer shopping online? Check out these places first:

  • eBay
  • Facebook marketplace
  • Amazon
  • books.com.tw
  • Aliexpress

You could also ask friends or teachers if they have any books to sell or give away, as secondhand books will often be cheaper.

Are you in China? I’m envious! There are so many ways to get hold of Chinese books. You probably know about Taobao, but you could also try kongfz.com, dangdang.com, and Amazon.com. But you should also have bookshops in the city you’re in.

Curious about life in Shanghai? The team has put together a blog post about the must-read Shanghai Books.

Must-Read Shanghai Books

5 Shanghai Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down Thumbnail

5 Shanghai Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

Here are five Shanghai books that you need to check out. Once you pick these up, you won’t be able to put them down. All are set in Shanghai.

Finally, if you’re not bothered about having hard copies of a book, many Chinese stories are available online, either as web novels or epubs. You can start with a simple Google search of “Chinese novels online” or “Chinese web novels”. Of course, you’ll get better results if you’re able to search in Chinese. 

Try searching for “中文小说” or “买中文书”。

Still having trouble? Ask a Chinese friend or teacher to give you a hand! 

So, whether you prefer reading books, watching movies, or studying from textbooks, go with what feels right for you but remember to change it up now and then.

Explore other options such as comic books, newspapers, or quiz shows – or anything else you find interesting!

Language Reactor – The ultimate language-learning tool for movie lovers!

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Immerse Yourself in Your Target Language 

Language immersion is a term often related to people living in a country and surrounding themselves with the local language and culture.

👉 But don’t worry, you can absolutely immerse yourself in a language at home. 

Hopefully, you’ve found some resources you enjoy using. Immersion often works best when you’re learning about things that interest you.

It is important to try hobbies, podcasts, or TV shows in Chinese because you may discover something new, but it’s also okay to stick to what you’re comfortable with – for the most part. 

Want to join an online community and talk about all things language and culture? Check out our Forum

If you need some ideas for language immersion in Chinese, here are some of my favourites:

  • Start your day with some music, news, or a podcast 
    •  Listen to something while you’re making breakfast or doing a workout. It will help get your brain thinking in Chinese
  • Narrate what you’re doing silently or aloud. Tell yourself what you are doing as you make breakfast or get ready for the day. 
    • “I’m getting the milk out of the fridge”, “I’m pouring milk on my cereal”, “I am walking into the living room to have my breakfast” and so on…
  • Read books, web novels, news articles, menus… anything!
    • Reading in Chinese will help you improve your character recognition and confidence when it comes to reading in general.
  • Write! Keep a language journal, write to your friends or penpals (yes, they do still exist!),

Immerse yourself in Chinese in as many ways as possible. From chatting with friends to reading, from gardening to following Chinese recipes when you cook, there are so many ways to use Chinese in daily life.

Check out these great blog posts

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Take Language Lessons Online or In-Person

Taking language lessons is a great way to immerse yourself in your target language. And there are so many options available these days.

You can choose to join individual or group lessons, join an exam preparation course, or have conversation classes. There are options for all levels and budgets, so you should be able to find a class or teacher no matter what your language goals are.

Did you know?

LTL stands for Live the Language and the lessons are designed to help students improve their skills and gain more confidence using their target languages. Individual and group lessons are available and we also offer short and long-term courses.

Not sure what you want or need?

Contact our LTL Shanghai student advisor Mojca and she’ll be happy to chat with you!

Why stop at Chinese?

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Make Friends With Native Speakers 

Making friends with native speakers is absolutely one of the best ways to immerse yourself in your target language. There are so many ways you can meet native speakers these days, but bear in mind not every option will be available to you.

Let’s take a look at where you can meet Chinese speakers in your city.

  • At university – at a cultural event or through classes
  • At a Chinese restaurant – try ordering your food in Chinese!
  • On a Chinese language retreat – Check out our review of UK-based Mandarin Retreat!
  • At cultural events – more about this in a minute…
  • In your local Chinatown – if your city has a Chinatown, you should find plenty of opportunities to speak Chinese (or Cantonese) there.
  • Online – join a language class or meet friends online through social media

If you live in a small town or an area with few Chinese people or you’re more of an introvert, then you may need to consider meeting native speakers online via social media, language classes, or virtual events. 

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Join Local Cultural Activities

Although mentioned briefly in the previous sections, I think it’s important to expand on this suggestion. Many towns and cities around the world are multicultural and host events for local people to come together and learn about different cultures.

These cultural events should be advertised online via websites or social media but, if you can’t find any, it might be worth looking at notice boards in your local church, coffee shop, library, supermarket, or college. 

Reverse Culture Shock // What Is It & How To Deal With It Thumbnail

Reverse Culture Shock // What Is It & How To Deal With It

Culture shock and reverse culture shock are similar but they aren’t quite the same. Discover our guide to reverse culture shock and how to overcome it.

Cultural events could include:

  • Learning to dance
  • Book clubs
  • Food tasting
  • Religious events, like going to church 

Try a Google search of:
Chinese cultural events near me or Chinese cultural events in [city].

Learn a Language Without Travelling || Other Ideas

In case you need some more ideas on how to immerse yourself in a language without travelling, here are a few things you can add into your daily life and study schedules.

  • Watch YouTube videos – travel vlogs, interviews, Cdramas, or music videos
  • Play games – You can buy Nintendo and computer games in Chinese, as well as Monopoly, puzzles, and Mahjong
  • Find a language partner – you can meet someone online or through university or work
  • Family and friends – does someone you know speak Chinese? Practise with them!
  • Read – read books and other resources such as magazines, newspapers, textbooks, and leaflets to increase your exposure and improve your character regonition
  • Apps – there are so many apps available in Chinese. The LTL has reviewed many of them for you!
  • Take online lessonsindividual or group classes are available with LTL.
  • Watch online live or recorded lessons – often available on YouTube or Instagram

If you’re learning Mandarin Chinese but can’t travel to China, Singapore, or Taiwan at the moment, there are so many ways you can immerse yourself in the language.

Hopefully this blog post has given you plenty of ideas on how to get started! 

Interested in this topic?

You can find me (Claire) on Instagram at @languageslouise. I typically share my language journey and resources, and talk about how to study if you can’t travel!

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