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English Language Immersion in Your Home Country - Part 1

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

I live in Canada, and many people know that Canada is a bi-lingual country with two official languages, English and French. Most people outside of Canada think that most Canadian speak both languages because of this. The truth however, is that the languages are geographically split, About 95% of the French Speaking population lives in the Eastern Province of Quebec, outside of Quebec, and especially in Western Canada where I live, very few people speak French, and while I know and can understand a little French, it is very difficult for most people where I live to get a functional handle on the language because we live over 4,000 kms from where the language is commonly spoken. We do have schools where children can learn French in an intensive environment called French Immersion Schools, from the time the student enters the school, until they leave at then end of the day, they only receive instruction in French. I believe that you can use the same method to learn any language in your home country, I call it virtual immersion.


Introduction

If you are living in a country where you have limited opportunities to practice speaking and learning English I will outline a way to create virtual language immersion. These tactics can be used for learning any language and are not limited to learning English.


One of the best ways to learn a new language is to travel to a country that speaks the language that you are learning. This is the only way to truly experience the language in all of its nuances, it also forces the learner to rapidly learn the language. We have hosted many home-stay students in our home, they live daily family life with us and it requires the use of English to accomplish all daily tasks. This is also the most expensive way to learn a language.


An alternative to a lengthy home-stay and study abroad trip is to take a short vacation, or many vacations. I have been studying Spanish for many years. I also enjoy travelling to Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries in the winter months for a week to 10 days at a time. Each time I go, my Spanish makes a significant improvement. To be certain, this is also an expensive way to learn a language, and it can be lengthy, after 7 years of study I am still only at an intermediate level.


Another alternative that many try, is to go to a language school where you learn the language for an hour or so per day. This is the way that many people are able to acquire a foundation in the language but they often do not progress, and are not able to actually carry out a basic conversation with a native speaker in real world situations.


There is no one best way to learn a language. You will need to experiment with many ways, and you will need a variety of tools in your toolbox.


You Can Create a Virtual Immersive Learning Environment

Start with Listening

You should start by listening to your target language as much as possible. This will help tune your ear to the language, its rhythm and structure.


  • Music - Listen to music in your target language as much as possible

  • Television shows - Sitcoms, Series, News - Start by using subtitles in your native language

  • I am a fan of binge watching Netflix, you can watch in many languages and subtitles are available in many languages.

  • Surf English Language websites on topics of interest to you (BBC World Service is in many languages)

  • English Language Radio, Talk and News Radio

  • Pod Casts - Especially Target Language Learning Podcasts

  • You-Tube Videos - Especially Target Language Learning Podcasts & Cultural Podcasts

  • Live Game Console Chat (X-Box, PS4)

  • You can switch your smart phone language to your target language.



Language Production - Speaking


It is natural, you will go through a phase where you will not feel comfortable speaking but you have a reasonable amount of vocabulary that you could use to construct simple sentences and ask simple questions. You may be shy or nervous, and this is completely normal for all language learners.


  • Record yourself speaking with your phone, and play it back to yourself

  • Find a friend that you can practice with at school or work - Pick one day a week that will be English only with that person.

  • Find a conversation platform or language exchange, some are paid, others are free. I Coach on Cambly.

  • If you are in a class learning English have an English Only Day, when you see anyone from your class you will only speak English on that day.

  • Practice using an English Phrase or Word be using the English word while speaking your native language, substitute the word in English.

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