What is a language immersion?
Language immersion generally refers to a stay in a foreign country with the aim of reinforcing or maintaining a command of a language. More precisely, it is the fact of being immersed in a more natural linguistic environment, which allows for a more authentic practice of the language, at the heart of concrete life situations.
Even if courses given in the language one wishes to learn, like those offered at school in general, are a form of linguistic immersion, we will focus here on exposure to the foreign language in the context of language stays, where the language is no longer the object of learning but a real means of communicating in everyday life. These include internships and student exchange programmes, jobs and travel in foreign countries, and host families and private programmes. In the end, it is an excellent opportunity to go abroad, but also a way to give the language its full meaning.
What are the benefits of language immersion?
- Develops listening skills: immersed in a linguistic environment, it is essential to rely on the situation in general, on everything that is specific to the nature and culture of the language. In this way, we train our ear to the music of the language (accents, intonations) but we also learn to observe its particularities and the gestures and mimics of our interlocutors.
- Allows us to memorise in the long term: based on our own experience, we use knowledge established on a trial-and-error model, which is more effective over time.
- Allows for a rapid gain in performance: through active, real-life practice of the language, we generally make faster progress, as well as improving our self-confidence by becoming familiar with the language.
- Gives confidence: practising a language is a daily practice, which allows you to become more comfortable and fluent quickly, but also to acquire automatisms and greater mental flexibility.
Finally, the benefits are numerous, mainly because a language immersion often leads to rapid, lasting and rather enjoyable progress. Moreover, as speaking several languages is a real asset in today’s society, it is also a way of preparing for your professional future.
Of course, going abroad can be stressful, especially at the beginning when there is a risk of finding yourself in situations where language is a barrier. However, most organisations make sure that these trips go well and are reasonably priced. You can also go with a group to feel more at ease, but beware, this also means taking the risk of practising the language you are learning less. Finally, there are no real disadvantages, except perhaps the money to be invested in the project, and on condition that you choose your stay carefully.
Language immersion thus create a situation of lifelong learning, with a transition from theory to practice. This increases the chances of learning the language better and mastering it in the long term. However, it is important to note that a language stay is really effective if it lasts at least two weeks and if it is carefully chosen.
There are many serious and certified organisations, such as UNOSEL, which make it possible to select a stay that suits your expectations. So, if your objective is to improve a foreign language, don’t hesitate!