By Rachel Rowland ( ABC School’s Academic Coordinator )
Living and studying in the U.K can be very daunting as there are many options available for English language courses. You may have heard of the word ‘immersion’ connected to language learning and there are many schools and colleges which refer to immersion programmes on their websites. In this article, I will explain what language immersion is and will provide you with some information on why living with a host family can help you to quickly achieve your language learning goals.
What does immersion mean?
Immersion means being deeply involved in something and spending lots of time being mentally engaged in it:
Sarah took a lot of English books out of the library and immersed herself in learning the language.
Immersive language courses are those in which the content is taught using the language you are learning, such as English. If you consider how you acquired your first language, you would have been exposed to sets of vocabulary items and individual words over and over again in familiar contexts, which is similar to a fully immersive experience. By considering this, it will help you to understand why immersion can be very successful. Through a combination of learning approaches, with the Callan Method and General English, you will be able to learn very quickly. New words and phrases will be repeated in Callan classes, until you are comfortable saying them and have a good understanding of their meaning, and you will be able to ask and answer questions whilst having your mistakes corrected. You will also have the opportunity to practise using the language more freely in general English classes.
Using the Language Outside of Classes
Speaking English conversationally is a great way to build your confidence, and you’ll pick up new words and phrases almost without even realising it. What’s more, if you make friends with native English speakers, you’ll learn the colloquial language spoken by native speakers. Through total linguistic immersion in the English language, you will improve confidence quickly. If you have conversations in English all over the school, not just in lessons, but in your breaks too, this will help you to gain confidence and help to extend your vocabulary.
Living with a Host Family
Living with a host family can obviously help you to understand the local language more easily, but it can also help you to appreciate the culture of the country you are living in. When living with a local family, you will eat your meals together every day. Food is a great way to get to know people and sitting together at a dinner table offers opportunities to practise your conversation skills and also offers a fun way to learn new words and phrases. You will probably have to get used to eating at different times and trying new dishes, but this is a part of the cultural experience. You could also spend time with the family participating in everyday activities, such as going to the supermarket or watching films together in English. Just think how lucky you would be to be learning the language within the country it originates from as well as living with a local family!
Use media resources
Studies have shown that when students regularly use a wide range of English media, they are achieving a much higher level of immersion in the English language than those who don’t. As well as watching films in English with your host family, seeking out English media resources outside of the classroom will encourage you to be more independent. Read a newspaper story in English that interests you, or read a book that seems really interesting. All of these will help you to immerse yourself further into the English language.
Do your homework
This is essential if you wish to fully immerse yourself in the language. You must make sure that homework becomes another learning opportunity. Homework is sometimes engaging and interesting and sometimes it’s repetitive, but life isn’t always exciting. What you need to focus on is the learning value of the activity you are doing.
Immersing yourself in a language is without a doubt one of the most rewarding things you can ever do. Living with a host family, using a combination of approaches, such as the Callan Method and General English as well as practising speaking with native English speakers, are all rewarding experiences, which will help you to achieve your goals very quickly.