Online Language Immersion: Learn a Language Anywhere
Accelerate your learning with these five tools to create your own online language immersion experience at home.
There are lots of materials out there to learn a new language. Think textbooks, courses, college courses, apps, Flashcards. All of these things can be super helpful in helping you learn all the rules, patterns, structures and vocabulary while you’re learning a new language.
Understanding language acquisition is extremely important when you want to learn a new language. Acquisition is that natural process of picking up a new language- just like you did with your first language. It starts with listening. It’s followed by speaking. We then learn to read when we learn what our language looks like. Lastly, we master how to write. All of these skills work simultaneously and support each other once they are in progress. For example, you hear a word that eventually is incorporated into your writing.
We acquired our language naturally through our relationships, our environment, TV, movies, books, our teachers. Essentially we learned it through full-on immersion. Successful learners and polyglots know that the perfect combination of learning and acquisition can truly accelerate your ability to understand and communicate in a new language.
Here are five tools you can use today, without ever leaving your home country to incorporate into your language studies, that can help you mimic that immersive environment where you learned your first language.
If you’re not familiar with Yabla, get familiar. It is one of the greatest tools out there to experience language immersion. Yabla is a subscription site that puts out new content every week right from the target language country.
You can see dramas, commercials, news reports, and it has a patented player that lets you look up words, subtitles, captions. It can play slow, it can play fast, there are also numerous games that are included with every video. You can make Flashcards of the new vocabulary. Teachers can also use it- it’s a great way to teach a language. You can immerse your students, as long as they have an internet connection, in authentic real language.
TPR or total physical response is a language teacher’s best tool. Essentially, TPR allows the learner to receive messages in a new language. Everything is completely in context, and it’s a great way to really focus and learn vocabulary and grammar all in context. Some examples of TPR activities that you might have experienced might be bingo. Pictionary, where you draw what someone says to you in a new language. This might be Simon Says. It could be a program like Rosetta Stone, or EuroTalk, where you’re responding to commands and acquiring new language in a really fun and immersive way.
Some of the ways that we can use Total Physical Response when you’re learning on your own is immersing yourself in dance and exercise classes. YouTube is a great resource that has lots of target language instruction. You can do yoga in French or aerobics in Spanish. You can learn traditional dances from all over the Spanish speaking world. The instruction is given in the target language, and you get to see it being demonstrated at the same time. Just as you would anything you’re learning new, repeat and practice over and over. Each time you’re going to soak up new language.
I think the internet and the smartphone have been two of the biggest advances for making language accessible to anybody anywhere. We’ve never lived in a time before in history where people share their culture and language so readily and easily, and it’s growing all the time. You could learn a whole new language just on your phone.
One of the apps I particularly love is the Audible App (any equivalent Audiobook app will do). Listen to a course. When you’re more advanced, listen to stories. The great thing is you can accomplish something else while you’re doing this.
Maybe you want to increase your walking and lose some weight. You can listen to your Audiobooks over and over again and soak up new vocabulary and grammar every time. You can also listen to them in your car. Do it while you’re doing errands or cleaning the house. It’s a great way to up your language skills and get something productive done at the same time.
Gabriel Wyner, author of the bestselling book Fluent Forever, has created an app. He’s taken his whole Anki Flashcard system and has developed an app to make cards very easy to make. What’s great about it is that you can make a completely personalized immersive experience with text, video, audio, images, put it right on your phone, and study anywhere.
Target language television
There are so many people out there publishing their own broadcasts on YouTube, you probably just need to know what to look for. If you’re learning Spanish check out the telenovelas. I love French reality shows. There’s so much to choose from, you can sit and watch something interesting as many times as you need to to understand, all while learning a new language, and learning a lot about what’s going on in your target language country.
Check out these reality shows in French Youtube French
eBooks are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in language. It used to be much more of a challenge to get books in another language, it’s not anymore. If you have a Kindle or any kind of eReader Amazon is constantly delivering new eBooks. Project Gutenberg has free eBooks in a variety of languages for anyone wanting to learn. Read Google news from the target language by changing your settings.
I hope these resources will help you add some high interest activities to your online language immersion, and give you a lot more insight into the culture in real authentic language. Select a new immersive experience and invest time every day in it over the next five weeks. You will be amazed at your progress.
Looking for more resources to learn a language? Click here.