Language immersion: What is it?

Language immersion

Language immersion: What is it?

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Hola, bonjour bonjour known yourself. Konnichiwa. I hope you’re well this week. I wanted to answer the question. What is language immersion?

So basically language immersion is being completely immersed in the language. I know that’s obvious and that’s not a great explanation. But we’re going to go a little bit deeper than that about what that means for independent language learners. So essentially immersive language experience sallow you to learn language and content, ideally through that language

My background is somewhat in language immersion. I have a lot of experience as a student and both as a teacher. I was director of language immersion school at Sejong University in Seoul Korea, and I’m a certified Spanish language immersion teacher and in an academic context what that really means is that students attend school as they would regular school day and they do part if not all of their day learning academic subjects in another language. There’s dual language immersion programs and there’s all different sorts of setups possible setups for this we won’t get into that so much here. But essentially, what the teacher needs to do is present content, so math or science or some substantive subject to students in a way that they understand so through comp what we call comprehensible input and that’s crashing. That’s research-based. That’s how you learn languages- it’s by understanding, and you do that by things being comprehensible. 

So if you think about language immersion think about an elementary school setting the teacher might use lots of visuals. There might be lots of Hands-On things and students might stay in these programs for long periods of time and they come out feeling very confident and competent in that language because they’ve had so much exposure 

For example language immersion can also be something that you do as an adult and in my book the five-week linguist. I had this opportunity to interview the dean of Middlebury College. Middlebury College offers these amazing language immersion experiences on their campus.

Also, places in Minnesota- Concordia- does language villages. There’s lots of ways to do this. You could even go abroad and have your own create your own language immersion program where you’re learning through content. One of my very favorite language immersion experiences as a student is a private language school. So they tend to do a couple of hours of instruction in grammar in a couple of hours of communicative activities, and they’re all in the target language and then oftentimes in the afternoon.

They might offer lectures on films or art or tours around wherever you might be studying a really great experience. So I want to talk about if all these things have not been accessible to you.

People have lives, jobs and families. And so you can’t go back in time obviously and go back to elementary school and have learned Spanish or French or Mandarin because you were able to get into a language immersion program. There are some amazing ones out there and learn what you would learn in your own language in another language and then you come out knowing two languages, as well as all the content. 

You can’t necessarily go back to college and do a summer abroad or a summer in Middlebury or at Concordia.

I know those things aren’t necessarily realistic for many people. But what is amazing right now in this day and age with the Internet is that you can create your own immersive language experiences.

So I want to go back to if you’re an absolute beginner in a language.

I would say one of my very favorite places to get some immersive language experience is through the app you talk and I think it has a different name. I think they might call it something different in the United States. I think it’s called Euro Talk and or Instant Immersion, you might see all of those names and they sell actual discs and software but they also share they do it on an app so you can do this on your phone, on a tablet computer and they’re very immersive. They’re really addictive fun where you’re sort of clicking around and you’re getting that comprehensible input that we talked about earlier to learn a language. So maybe you’re learning colors or you’re learning something about culture in your active and engaged and involved. So, it’s great for an absolute beginner. It’s really immersive and I believe that Rosetta Stone Works in a similar way that it’s all based on. Comprehensible input and so if you click something

It could be your answer. But if it’s not it’s going to repeat what I said. So you’re getting your understanding, you’re repeating things and it’s in a meaningful context. All the grammar is presented in that way. I am going to actually try Rosetta Stone and see what kind of language immersion that would sort of experience that is.

And I believe it was based on something called The Learnables. It was a program for students who are home-schooled or they’re very very similar.

Students could learn a language and get credit without necessarily going to a classroom. So a parent might have their student do some of the activities or some courses on the learnable ‘s

So think about that for absolute beginners, but fast forward a little bit and not too far beyond where you are is

If you have the internet, you have the ultimate language lab in the ultimate language immersion lab, so I want to give you some examples of some language immersion experiences and where you can find them. So one thing I really like is the site Lyrics Training, because it’s very fun. And it’s very active. So being immersed in music. So you’re learning music which is often a reflection of culture. You learn some vocabulary you learn about what’s popular in different countries through their music and what’s been popular in the past.

Go on YouTube.

If you want to learn French.

Type in French cooking tutorials and you’ll see loads of examples from the French-speaking world and what’s great is you can make it comprehensible so you can watch something over and over again as you’re learning this new skill cooking for example.

Do you like documentaries?

I love documentaries and you can watch them on YouTube, again repeating episode so you understand things. Yabla has tons of documentaries and they make them comprehensible by offering.

Captions and subtitles and then lots of comprehension activities that go with every episode Netflix has documentaries. You can get the plug-in Learning Languages with Netflix and you can learn about all kinds of things that are going on in the world through another language.

You can learn about current events in history.

For example, I love Flamenco and I love learning all about the history of Flamenco. And there’s a website radio online called and it’s part of a whole network of broadcasting from Spain. You can watch the news and learn about what’s going on. When you get really advanced, go back to YouTube. You can learn the guitar. You can learn how to do dance salsa or merengue just by typing those words in and I’m gone.

The possibilities are infinite, because I don’t know what your interests are. But I’m sure that somebody is publishing something on a site like YouTube for you to be able to learn something and learn a language at the same time.

And you can do this obviously through reading as well. You can have great immersive experiences. And so I like to go to Google News and choose my language settings.

I like to read about current events, but then that will send you all kinds of other places where you can read things you really like. I highly recommend learning just a few key words in your language and you’re going to get tons of content and what’s great is once you’ve watched a couple.

Obviously, they’re going to pick up a pattern and they’re going to start sending you things. You can get your exercise in and have language immersion at the same time. One of my very favorite activities is to listen to Audible. Audible is great. This is probably my number one app for learning languages because, not only can you do beginner courses when you’re Advanced you can listen to books in your target language. Obviously some languages are more abundant than others. 

Spanish is kind of the number one. Lots of things are available in Spanish and more and more all the time. Less commonly spoken language might be a little bit more of a challenge to find content, but it’s there so you get your exercise in and clean and you can listen to a great novel or book when you get more advanced.

You can listen to short stories when you’re at the intermediate level and you can do beginning level courses. So there’s something for all levels. So.

You don’t have to wait until you can go abroad to have regular immersive experiences. I always recommend that people think in terms of five weeks. So if you increase the amount of time that you invest in your studies and engagement language, you’re going to have to hit your goals in fewer five-week periods. If you are like me, I have a really busy life and sometimes I don’t get more than a half an hour a day for languages, but that’s okay. I don’t let that discourage me. Those half an hour periods add up and for me to master. 

Okay, I’m working on Italian right now. My goal is to master or hit a very solid B2 level. It’s taking me a long time. I’ve written a couple of books in the past year. I’ve had a lot of other things going on. I still teach full time. I started this podcast. I created two online courses. It’s just going to take me longer.

This summer, I’m not traveling to Italy, like I had planned. So I’m going to be doing more things to learn Italian at home and not in Italy. And hopefully I’ll be doing a lot of reading and language immersion in Italian.

If you have something that you want answered you can leave that in your review and I will cover it. So thank you so much. Until next week!

Arrivederci! Avoir!

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