study tips

How to Practice Language Immersion at Home

We all heard that story over and over again: a person moves to a foreign country. At first, he cannot even order a burger, so he just smiles nervously and points his finger to the picture on the menu. A week goes by, and now he can order all of his favorite foods with ease; in fact, he even has a small talk with a bus driver (even though his grammar is probably terrible, the bus driver smiles and corrects him).  Day by day he picks up new phrases, and finally, after a year of living in a new country, he can proudly say “I’ve learned this new language without any grammar books!”

What is language immersion technique?

Language immersion is a technique commonly used in bilingual schools. Although programs differ by country, most schools that use language immersion focus on teaching different subjects in two languages — the native language and the second language. In general, this technique aims to create environment where daily practices can be carried out in a foreign language.

How to practice it at home?

Moving to another country just to experience language immersion seems pretty radical during the global COVID-19 pandemic. So is it possible to practice it at home? Of course! However, it’s important to note that language immersion at home is going to be a completely unique experience — each person will have to figure out what works for them and what doesn’t.

So, what should you focus on? Your goal would be to tackle various areas from your daily life. Think, what things you normally do in your native language that you could do in English (or another language)? Is it possible to achieve this without making your life more troublesome?

Ideas for beginner learners

Language immersion technique might be a bit tricky for beginner learners; if your knowledge about the second language is limited, typical immersion activities might make your daily life a bit too tedious. However, it really depends on your lifestyle! Just imagine, you started learning Spanish and you decide to switch all of your devices to Spanish language. Some people will enjoy this long process and will learn by discovering things themselves. Others, however, might end up throwing their phones away in a burning rage.

The ‘ideas for beginners’ lists contains only those activities that won’t make you struggle! If you’re feeling like you’re up for a challenge, go to the list for advanced learners.

1. Find song lyrics and sing along!

What’s your favorite English song? Now, quickly go to Google and find the lyrics. All you have to do, is turn on the song and sing along! If you want to take an extra step, you can translate the lyrics to find out the meaning!

2. Decorate you home with conversation starter sticky-notes

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before! A lot of teachers recommend sticking notes with your target vocabulary on places that you can see. Of course, it helps to memorize new vocabulary but it can even boost your speaking skills! Create a few conversation starter sticky notes and stick them wherever you want to ( a few examples of conversation starters, “Hello, how are you?”, “What do you do?”). Each time you come across your note, start a conversation with it 🙂

Ideas for advanced learners

I won’t lie, language immersion at home works best if you’re an advanced learner. Such learners already have the core knowledge about the language and can challenge themselves in the most unique ways. Here are a few ideas:

1. Find English recipes

Cooking is one of the most rewarding activities; you get to learn new vocabulary and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal! Think about food vocabulary that you already know. What’s missing? Now, look for recipes that contain vocabulary that you might not know – various herbs and spices, legumes, exotic fruit, and other fancy ingredients.

2. Play video games

Yes, you heard it right! Video games are great for language learning, especially if they focus on storytelling or allow user to user communication. Look for games that challenge your English. Here are are my top pics from different genres: Firewatch, The Witcher, The Wolf Among Us, Life is Strange

3. Have a shower conversation with… yourself!

Are you that kind of person who gets the most brilliant ideas when they’re showering? If so, you should definitely try having a shower conversation with yourself. Whenever you’re showering, vocalize your ideas in the language you’re learning. You can even go one step further and create another character who’s going to debate you!

4. Learn a new skill

Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to try but never got to it? Or maybe a software you’ve always wanted to be good at? Take advantage of your passions and your curiosity; find a video tutorial in a language you’re learning!

5. Find a penpal

If you love chatting with people, this one’s for you! Having someone to talk to is always great; even better, if you can practice a second language! You can look for the perfect penpal on the subreddit /penpals or /penpalmatching.

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