Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Use an English Only Language Immersion Environment to Develop Your Language Skills in a Hurry
English Language Immersion
One of the best ways to stimulate improvement in English language learning is to immerse yourself in an “English-Only” environment. However, many English or foreign language learners might think, “I live in a country where this simply isn’t possible”. This though, is not necessarily true. Let’s have a brief look at some strategies that might be used to help in “simulating” an effective English or other foreign language immersion environment. Some language institutes and universities like the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz try to accomplish this in their foreign language learning programs by employing several “artificial” means to do so.
Some of these means include:
• Sequestering learners in a physical language immersion location for a weekend, week or longer sustainable period
• English or target foreign language movies and videos only
• For a unique change of pace try watching cartoons in English or the target language
• Not allowing learners to speak in their first language (LI) for the entire immersion period
• Supplying English only newspapers, magazines and other daily reading materials
• Allowing English only music to be played in the immersion location
• English or target language only news, music or sports radio stations are allowed
• Learners eat only foods and drinks typical of the culture where the target language is spoken
• Use games and fun didactic activities in English or the target language
• All speech must be in English at restaurants, cafeterias and other target language-related locations
Some Practical Language Immersion Suggestions
Providing an "English-Only" environment can actually be much easier than you might imagine. With the radio or CD player, have music and songs in English only. Post signs, notes and written material on walls and objects around the room, etc. Play videos, movies and other audio-visual materials in English only - with NO L1 subtitles if that's possible. English or other target language subtitles ARE allowed, however. Read newspapers, magazines and websites that are in English. Get your news from CNN in English if available. Try to talk on the phone with friends, classmates and others in English only whenever possible. Then of course, only surf sites on the internet in English.
For Starters Only
These suggestions are only for starters, brainstorm and you'll come up with many more if you just put your mind to it - and, Voila! an English-Only (or other foreign language) environment will soon surround you. Using this technique, people have developed speaking fluency in as little as a weekend – from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The techniques are not limited to English either. Fluency in any target foreign language can be developed in this way as well. I personally did this in learning Spanish, French, Twi and Kpelle. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how well this can truly work. Just try it for yourself and see.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: firstname.lastname@example.org