Not everyone who makes the commitment to learning a foreign language has heard of language immersion learning, so we would like to shed some light on the concept.
Language immersion is a teaching method in which the target language is the only language used in the classroom. Just like your mum and dad were teaching you their native language when you were born – and you were watching, listening and imitating it – your teacher is communicating with you in that foreign language non-stop.
To help with this communication your teacher will use various tools like pictures, actual objects and demonstrations as well as facial expressions, gestures and mime and pointing. The key point, as with every learning, is repetition.
Where does Immersion learning come from?
The first language immersion programmes originated in Canada in the 1960s when parents asked educators to set-up a scheme that would enable their children ‘to appreciate the traditions and culture of French-speaking Canadians as well as English-speaking Canadians’. They assumed that this approach would help to facilitate their children’s future economic and social prosperity.
In a population consisting of speakers of two languages, the main purpose of language immersion programmes is to foster bilingualism through teaching school subjects such as math, science and social studies.
The formats can vary; from total immersion where students spent 100% of their class time in the foreign language and partial immersion (50% in the foreign language) to two-way immersion where the class consist of students with different language backgrounds so class time is split in half and taught in both languages with students encouraging and teaching each other (e.g. English and Spanish in the United States).
Why learn a language through immersion Learning?
According to the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), ‘language immersion education has heralded benefits such as academic achievement, language and literacy development in two or more languages, and cognitive skills’.
At Language Hub we believe that this teaching method is the fastest and most effective way to learn a language. Instead of translating phrases in your mind, you will soon think and speak in your target language because you are getting used to the structures and patterns of the language.
While you would hear a word three to four times on average in a ‘normal’ language class, you hear it on average 15 times more often in an immersion class. Making the effort to ask questions in your target language will enable you to store those phrases in your long term memory – and it is there to stay. Consequently, after one year of immersing yourself in the target language, you will be able to have a real conversation.