How Language Immersion Programs Will Help You Survive The Apocalypse

by Kerianne Baylor

Imagine this: you're in a foreign country and you don't speak the native language. You go to the grocery store. You're overwhelmed thinking, Where are the eggs? How do I even ask that? How do I even say “eggs”? Where do I check out? What did they just ask me at the register? How much is it? A quick trip to the store for some eggs turns into an anxiety-ridden experience because you just simply don't know how to buy eggs in a foreign language.

Blazing fire
The world is on fire and you’re having the time of your life abroad. What are you going to do without any foreign language skills?!

Now, imagine it's doomsday wherever you are abroad. You’re smack dab in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, running from undead and flailing corpses, but you need sustenance to survive: you've gotta get eggs (or whatever they’ve got) from the store. You’re pushing through doomsday-prepping crowds trying to decipher a foreign language all while barely escaping the grasp of rotted-flesh hands clawing at you. Throw on a literal pile of anxiety and kick yourself for not signing up for a language immersion program, so you would at least know the key phrases in a foreign language!

Why do you need survival language skills?

The world is ending and you can't verbally communicate with a significant portion of the population; but don’t fret, you can survive the day after tomorrow, because you can be a language legend. You’ll find a way to manage in a life-or-death, apocalyptic situation, if you recognize that the survival part of survival language skills is for real.

There are plenty of situations in which language skills will save the day, but take your language learning one step further to save yourselves in those emergency, the-world-is-literally-ending situations and you will get yourself out of more than just a pickle while abroad.

Just like it takes effort to build your community abroad, you may need to band together with the rest of humanity to avoid crazed zombies wreaking havoc. But first, you’ll need to know how to ask them to band together. Speaking just one language might prove difficult in an apocalypse, so survival language skills will come in handy, like speak-another-language-if-I-want-to-live handy.

Zombie cheerleaders running down a street
You need to outrun those zombie cheerleaders and get to a grocery store for provisions STAT. Do you remember how to say I’M NOT A ZOMBIE and I NEED FOOD? Photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo

What are survival language skills?

Survival language skills are about much more than key phrases in a foreign language, such as asking where the supermarket is, where you get off of the metro, or where the modern art museum is. This means language immersion programs are critical to your survival.

Help me!

In a situation that potentially puts your own life in danger, you may have to rely on foreign language skills, not just hand gestures, nonverbal communication, and charade-like acting or those go to phrases related to asking for directions. You’ll want to include important phrases like “I need help!”, and any vocabulary related to communicating danger, disease, and hey, even body parts. You never know.

Need. Food. Now.

You’ll also want to know how to ask for food to make it through an apocalyptic situation. Immersion language courses will also address food-related vocab. Food is life. Food is BAE. Not to mention it’s a means of connection when you’re studying abroad and sharing your go-to breakfast foods, your can’t-live-without comfort foods, and your momma’s signature dish. When you add some urgency to the #hanger with a potential disease-ridden, barren doomsday, and all that delicious food vocabulary shoots to the top of your “Words I Need to Know Right Now” list.

People outside a grocery store
It looks all nice and calm now, but imagine what it will be like when you’re fighting off zombies groaning in French!

I come in peace.

Smiles and awkwardly-timed laughter get you by in those first-time-abroad introductions. Then, you transition further into being able to talk about where you’re from, who’s in your family, and pretty much anything and everything about yourself. In time, you instinctively respond in that foreign language. However, what happens when you’re pushed into a crumbling corner while under attack during an invasion? Breathe in, breathe out, and think fast.

It’s a numbers game at that point, and to converse with others you need a shared language. Let ‘em know you’re there (1) peacefully and (2) want to band together. But, only after you’ve mastered one or two (or three) foreign languages abroad. Prep yourself for under-pressure first encounters with aliens even before it happens in your wildest dreams. Match your Spock-like hands with some I-come-in-peace communication to let people know you’re not a threat.

How can you learn survival language skills?

From zombie-vampires to nuclear wars to airborne contagious diseases, apocalyptic doomsday scenarios can throw your head for a spin. Add in the complication of communicating in a foreign language, more than flashing OK and thumbs-up signs, to get food, ask for help, or even prove you’re not a threat while under enormous fight-or-flight feeling pressure and you may wish you would’ve tried a language immersion program. It’s that serious.

Don’t let funding and finding the perfect language immersion program prevent you from building up those absolutely-necessary language skills before the sky turns gray and ominous and aliens overrun planet Earth. Language immersion programs are truly the most valuable way to learn a language abroad, especially if you are aiming for a high intensity, survival-esque fluency, not to mention they are the best bang for your buck.

Area 51 at sunset
Do you think the people working at Area 51 only know one language? Think again!

We all need to communicate, and when your life’s on the line, survival language skills will most certainly aid in your endless pursuit to survive.

So, all you need to do is buckle down, save and compare programs through myGoAbroad, and then sign up for a language immersion program abroad, so you can literally survive. Before you know it, you’ll be able to send out all kinds of “please help me” messages.