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Learning English through Immersion

December 5, 2020

A highly effective yet little known method of language learning is immersion. Immersion is to surround oneself with native speaker content and according to the latest series of brain studies carried out by Georgetown University Medical Centre “an adult learning a foreign language using immersion can come to use the same brain mechanisms as a native speaker.”  The kind of exposure one gets to foreign language learning under immersion conditions can be more beneficial than traditional classroom pedagogical practices even getting the learner close to achieving native speaker level competency. Even with the most challenging parts of a language such as grammar. Even though classroom training, when once compared with immersion, tend to be more effective “No studies have looked at the actual brain mechanisms after different types of exposure,” says Kara Morgan-Short, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, further reinforcing the theory that conditions under which a person learns a foreign language matter.

Therefore, while achieving proficiency in a classroom training which will make learners proficient in reading and writing, an effective method to prepare a learner for real life situations is to create an English Immersion Environment. Following are some easy steps:

  1. The apparent and most recommended method of immersion is to travel to the country of natives and live and work with them but this is not always a viable option for many. Yet it does yield many benefits.  An easier alternative is mingling and making friends with native speakers in one’s own country.
  2. Use a monolingual dictionary of the target language. These are English learner friendly dictionaries that do not require one to go back and forth in language translating which can be a barrier in speedy acquisition of English.
  3. Label everything around you in English so that constant sight of these will help remember vocabulary and even make one feel surrounded with English Language.
  4. Trying to shift your thinking from one’s native language to English too is an extremely effective method whereas when speaking a foreign language, the usual practice is to think in your native language and translate it into the target language (English). When thinking itself takes place in English you are bound to naturally improve your target language.
  5. Speak to your co- workers in your target language. This helps in familiarising specific jargon used at work and improving listening and speaking skills.
  6. Use English subtitles whenever you want to watch a movie or all other media available. This helps in many ways. It will help you understand the movie or any other form of media you choose to immerse yourself in, better. As the pace of utterances and the accent can be challenging at times for any non-native speaker.
  7. Journaling too is a great method to keep a record of your own personal growth journey and more importantly your language journey.
  8. Get a language learning app. Add this to the range of free apps in your phone so that you have quick and easy access to the language you want to learn and it will make your immersion journey even more convenient.

When immersion is practiced in this manner by completely surrounding oneself by the language it makes language acquisition faster. It is an easy and cost- effective way of learning and sparks creativity in students during their language learning journey. It is fun and most importantly makes you comfortable in using the language.

Virajini Bandara