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English Language Immersion

April 13th, 2010

One way to learn a language is by a student surrounding themselves with the language they are learning. This is a wonderful way to learn the English language also. One of the main reasons that people occasionally may not be fluent in a second language is a result of relying on their first language. Surrounding yourself with English will make it so that you have to rely on your English ability.

The English word for this learning concept is “immersion.” Immersing yourself in an English language environment is like being underwater in an ocean of only English. One of the ways to accomplish this is by choosing a room in your house or apartment and making it an “English Language Area.” Only allow yourself to bring English media into that room. The idea is to essentially pretend that the room is a native English speaker’s room in a native English speaking area of the world. Any books and magazines in that room should be only in English. If there is a television, make sure it only plays English language broadcasts and movies with no subtitles. If someone is watching English movies or television with subtitles in their first language, it can actually make them rely on their first language too much. Additionally, if there is a computer in the room, change the operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.) to display English as the primary language.

You are allowed to use a paper or electronic dictionary to translate to your first language when you need to. Try to do as much as possible without using the dictionary at all. Dictionaries usually require enough of an effort to use that people try not to use them unless they really want to look up a word. This can be a really good way of using human laziness against itself. The natural way to learn a language is by seeing an object, situation, or activity, and associating words to it. Children usually learn to speak their first language well before they start to read and write it. They are immersed in a language environment and they theoretically learn by associating words in this way. They don’t use a dictionary to look up every word they hear. If you have a friend or marriage partner who speaks English fluently, talk with them in person or on the phone in only English while in the English area.

The idea is to basically convince yourself that you are a native English speaker and you can build confidence in your English language ability. The English area you make should have lots of things you enjoy reading and watching. Make sure you choose books, magazines, movies, and so on that you really like. If it starts to seem fun, good! Don’t feel guilty about having fun using a language you are learning. Fun learning is a great way to actually want to be fluent in English. If something makes you happy, you will naturally want to do more of it.