Many people believe the only way for you to be immersed in a language is to move to another country. That’s just not true! Language immersion is a learning approach where students spend significant periods of time in an environment where that language is exclusively spoken. You can create this experience right at home by working with someone on a one-on-one basis that will only talk to you in the chosen language so that you can speak the language at all times and in a variety of scenarios. Going to a new country might not provide that, as so many people speak basic English around the world. So immersing, even if you are sitting on your couch, is possible with online English language tutors (aka teachers/great conversationalists).
Why Should I Do English Immersion Classes Over a Translation/Grammar Approach?
Immersion is important because it provides you with one of the key features of any effective language learning adventure—practice and mystery (this makes your brain work!). Constant and varied practice is always relevant. Through English language immersion, you will assimilate to the language surrounding food, culture, traditions, business and *gasp* the dreaded “small talk”, which ultimately propels you towards fluency. The keyword, however, is practice—lots of it. And forced practice, which is hard to do in a traditional classroom where the instructor might translate a lot of what is being said.
How To Achieve Fluency Through English Immersion Classes
How can you gain all this practice without becoming bored or giving up? Here are five ways to immerse yourself in a language without booking that flight to Mexico!
- Zone in on Dialogue
Dialogue is one of the first ways you use language. Write down the dialogue from your favorite novel in your target language, then talk about it with your tutor. Using your favorite novel (one with lots of dialogue!) will provide a sense of comfort, even as you practice and develop your vocabulary. Feeling confident after going through your favorite book? Grab a best-selling novel you haven’t read yet and go for it! Even better, get the transcript to a podcast, movie, or play! Make sure they are all modern! You don’t want to sound like Shakespeare!
- Play Favorites
Read on your favorite topic in your target language. Can’t get enough American football? Read an online article about a recently concluded game. This gets you not only into the mere words but into the culture and very heart of a country that speaks American English. Even though there isn’t a ton of talking during a game, it’s definitely conversation, and you don’t get bored easily, because you’re watching an entertaining game. Tricking yourself into sticking with the language for a longer period of time is the key. If you give up after 5 minutes with the newspaper, then watch something you love! It also breaks up the monotony that can come with language acquisition and keeps you excited. Soon you may be cheering on your favorite team in their native tongue. GO CHIEFS! Loving the journey? Join an online football forum in the language you want to learn for a greater thrill. Learn the lingo, become a part of the culture, and you’ll end up blending right in before you even meet an American.
- Join the conversation!
Join a conversation class that IS NOT based on meeting others that speak your native language. IF you’re a beginner, this will be very hard, so you can just listen. But if you’re at B1 level or above, then you should be looking for activities in the target language. Look for opportunities to dialogue with other native speakers.
If you can only find non-native speakers, then find REALLY advanced speakers to learn from—ones that have a LOT of English-speaking friends that can help you learn even more. Don’t fall into the expat trap of only making friends with expats.
Speaking with an advanced student may give you a chance to increase your vocabulary and learn some of the nuances of the language. Interacting with a beginner helps you to become a teacher yourself and helps gain some confidence. In this learning setting, don’t be too hard on yourself. You will make mistakes, but with some patience and dedication, you will be able to discuss a range of topics in time. Spend as much time as possible with native speakers so that you become accustomed to the speed and vocabulary.
- There’s An App For That
It’s 2020. There are a ton of apps available to help with language acquisition. Applications such as Babbel, Duolingo and Hello-Chat are free tools which aid in vocabulary expansion, and in some cases connect you to native speakers to provide you with necessary practice. Apps are mostly self-paced and great confidence boosters for someone who has just recently identified a language they’d like to learn. For the record, depending on only an app is not recommended. Sure, it can help with some vocabulary, but it’s also filled with irrelevant sentences that are never used in real life and you can’t learn a language from an app. So make sure most of your time is still spent with native speakers, whether a friend in another country or an online language tutor. Imagine watching videos about playing the piano and expecting to be Mozart without ever actually practicing the piano. Yea…. it’s like that. Not happening.
- Turn on Some Netflix for English Immersion Classes (that are Entertaining!)
Streaming services have changed how we get our entertainment fix. You can turn entertainment into edu-tainment by choosing a program that is in your target language. Set the subtitles to English to guide you along as you increase your vocabulary.
These suggestions work best when paired with work done in a classroom setting to help you to experience language immersion. As time passes, and your knowledge and comfort with your new language develops, you will discover several other ways to immerse yourself in the written and spoken word of another country. Of course, when learning any language, you will have to be patient with yourself and most of all, remember to practice consistently! For more pointers on how to become bilingual or even multilingual, check out this article from FluencyCorp on learning new languages without traveling. Here, you can learn more about achieving fluency from the comfort of your own city.