Language immersion has always been considered the ideal situation to learn a new language. We have pointed out countless time that this is not entirely true. There are multiple examples of people living in a country for a number of years who are unable to communicate in the language spoken in their host country. The reason is simply the lack of motivation.
Living in the country where your target language is spoken is indeed a great advantage when you're highly committed to make it work. Unfortunately not all of us can pack our bags and move to the country of our interest. It involves lots of preparation and investments that are not always affordable, without mentioning the affective ties. So going for the second best option, when at home, is perfectly valid.
Let's look at the ways we can make our surrounding an ideal place for language learning.
1- The right Mindset.
It involves some effort to make the choice to use your target language as much as possible during the day. Nowadays, technology and the internet can prove to be good allies.
2- Label every item in your home
it is a good exercise to find the words of each item and label them in your target language. The idea behind it is to learn this vocabulary effortlessly by seeing them on a constant basis and being able to recall and use them in your conversations.
3- Find a language partner
it is highly recommended that you find a language partner, ideally a native speaker. I know, it is easier said than done, but there are multiple ways to find one. More on that later.
Practice with them what you're currently learning and learn from them colloquial words and phrases. Pay attention to their pronunciation and try to mimic their intonation. Investigate about their culture. be curious, ask questions. They'll be more than happy to help.
You will be kept motivated by knowing that you have an immediate practical application for your
Where to look for a language partner?
You could try the town or city where you live. You could investigate in local libraries to see if they know about any conversation club in your target language. You could place an ad in your local paper, or look online on sites like FACEBOOK and investigate about language groups or start one yourself specifying the aim.
3- Keep a journal
keeping a journal in your target language help you use the day to day vocabulary as you would if you were living in your target country. This lead to the next point.
4- Record yourself
This is an excellent way to implement your speaking skills. It will help you use your vocabulary whilst paying attention to pronunciation and areas in need of improvement and more practice.
5- Visit Restaurants where food of your target country is served
Usually native speakers gather in these and more than likely the owner and some of the staff will be from your target country. You might be able to start a friendship with some of the attendees if you go with some frequency. practice your speaking skills when interacting with waiters ordering food and drinks. You will get partly familiar to their culture overtime.
6- Have fun whilst still learning
Write down the topics you're interested in, the subjects you like reading, film genres you love, sports that thrill you. Find podcasts related to them in your target language. It's better if the podcast has the transcript of the show, Listen to them in a meaningful way.
You should not have the program or the music playing in the background while you're engaged in other activities. Your listening should be active. You should involve 100% of your concentration on this activity.
* Listen to the audio.
* repeat the process of listening as many time as you wish. Without the transcript 2-3 times and with the transcript afterwards.
* Highlight the words you did not understand.
* Find their meaning.
* Shadow part of the program ( a paragraph for example). This helps both: listening skills and pronunciation.
7- Read in your target language
Read, books, magazines, blogs about your hobbies. Find an international online community that shares your passion. It is an excellent way to practice specialised words in your chosen topic without much effort,
All these will never fully compared to being-in-the-country immersion but it will help you acquire the so coveted hearing and speaking skills useful for when you actually go to your target country.
How have you simulate immersion? Feel free to share your experience in the comments.
Download the CHEAT SHEET: TOOLS TO HELP YOU IMMERSE IN YOUR TARGET LANGUAGE