When most people think of Oceania, they think classic Land Down Under: Australian Outback full of bouncing kangaroos, beaches speckled with surfer dudes, and thick Aussie accents. But Oceania expands across all lands of the Pacific Ocean, from the coasts of the Americas to the islands of Southeast Asia, so studying languages in this region means choosing from many countries, cultures, and languages. No matter where you choose to study Oceania languages, you’ll be in for a unique experience in coastal paradise.
Every country across Oceania has its own distinct culture and language, so the location of your language program depends on what calls out to you. You can study and work in Australia, or check out these other popular locations for studying Pacific Islander languages:
New Zealand. Language students who want to escape the constant heat of Southeast Asia can enter the land of mountains and hobbits. Perfect your English or embrace Maori culture as you fall in love with crystal blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, and endless fields of grazing sheep. New Zealand is heaven for all language students, whether you want to balance your language studies with learning the haka (traditional Maori dance) or shredding ski slopes in Queenstown. Don’t forget to study some Maori while you’re at it!
Fiji. Fiji’s long, varied colonial history has culminated in a multilingual society across 300-some islands. Whether you aim to learn the indigenous Fijian language (not quite Polynesian in nature, but remains the first language of more than half of the island’s inhabitants), Hindu (many Indian slaves who were sent to Fiji during the British colonial rule have stayed to set up shop), or English (yup, those colonizers left a legacy beyond the sugary, milky tea cup!), you can find fascinating language programs in Fiji.
Australia. The beating heart of Oceania is also one of the most popular destinations for international travelers from across the globe. Those who study English in Australia have access to isolated deserts, pristine beaches, lush mountains, bustling cities, and everything in between. From iconic Sydney to hipster Melbourne, laid back Brisbane to sunny Perth, and heaps of small towns along the coasts, you’ll never get bored exploring all Australia has to offer. Throw on your sunnies (sunglasses) and thongs (flip flops) for language learning in the Land Down Under.
Language Programs in Oceania
With so many countries spread throughout the Pacific, you’ll have nearly endless options when choosing which of the Oceanic languages to tackle. Each has its own official language, as well as native tribal languages that are spoken by smaller populations. In all, Oceania is home to over 1,000 Pacific languages, but the most popular for language study abroad (and the best places to study each) include:
Other popular polynesian languages include Tahitian, Sāmoan, and Tongan
Language students have several options when it comes to classes. Many choose to study at an international language school. Those who are serious about achieving fluency can opt for an intensive language program in Oceania, which are offered in small classes for four to six hours each weekday. These classes are especially helpful if you plan to learn a language but your travel time is crunched. If time is on your side, try a shorter class that expands over several months instead.
Other language students choose to study at a local university. This option is especially popular in Australia and New Zealand, where top universities can be found in most major cities. Join a class of 20 or more students, or find a private one-on-one tutor for a language learning experience that is tailored to your own personal needs.
The most effective way to achieve fluency is through a homestay. Homestays are popular all through Oceania, where students experience full immersion of language and culture by living under the roof of a local family. Not only do you have access to your own personal instructor 24/7, but your language “classes” could include chatting while cooking a homemade meal, watching cartoons, or exploring the cities with your host family.
Costs & Affordability
Language programs in Oceania range widely in cost depending on your length of stay, program type, and location. Longer, more intensive programs require greater program fees, but your destination country affects the cost more than anything. Oceania expands across tiny, underdeveloped islands and big, industrialized cities, and the cost of living varies from country to country.
The cheapest destinations are the Pacific Islands. Countries like Tuvalu and the Tonga have a low cost of living and inexpensive programs, so it’s easy to stay for longer periods of time. But if you’d rather study the languages of Australia and New Zealand, be prepared to spend a bit more, as the cost of living is much higher. What you spend in a few weeks in Australia could last you several months in Fiji.
If you’re worried about the cost, there are ways to save money. Start preparing for your language program in advance by saving money and making a budget. Explore your options of working abroad in your free time to supplement the cost of program fees. Or check out your options for fundraising or obtaining a scholarship to help with cost of getting there.
Accommodation & Visas
Language students in Oceania have endless options when it comes to living arrangements. Most language programs abroad offer assistance with accommodation, whether they provide housing or help you find your own apartment on arrival. Remember, with each housing option comes a different language experience.
Students who want to be surrounded by other students can choose to live in group housing or dorms at a local university. You’ll have new mates right next door, or even under the same roof! Others choose to live in their own apartment, or to stay in a hostel with other travelers until they find a more permanent solution. But the most immersive housing option for learning Pacific languages is a homestay. Homestays are perfect for those who want to save money and relieve some of the pressure of finding housing right away. Your family will take you in and take care of you from the moment of arrival, while also allowing you to fully embrace the culture on a new level!
Visa requirements, like cost, vary depending on your location of study and length of stay. Some countries require student visas, while others allow you to work and study on a working holiday visa. It’s important to do your research and check with GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory so you don’t run into problems when you arrive.
Benefits & Challenges
With so many options for language learning in Oceania, one of the biggest challenges language students face is choosing the right program. Each country offers a different culture, food, language, and way of life. Students have to factor in costs, culture shocks, and their overall desired experience, but once you choose a destination and leap into language study, all the nitty-gritty planning will be well worth it!
Language programs are about more than just learning to speak, read, and write in a foreign tongue. They allow students to communicate with locals and understand the culture on a new level. More than anything, language programs abroad improve the overall experience of living abroad. What better way to embrace your months spent in New Zealand than by learning the tribal Maori language, or to appreciate the Papua New Guinean culture by learning Tok Pisin?
Oceania is the ideal place for language study abroad because of its endless options. Whether you want to study for two weeks or several months, live in a bustling city or a laidback beach town, study English or a native tribal language, you’ll find it all in the diverse lands that span across the deep blue Pacific. No matter where you study or what language you want to learn, you’ll fall in love with new tongue and a new culture while attending language schools in Oceania.