Learning a Second Language Through Immersion

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An analysis of the effectiveness of the immersion method of teaching a foreign language.

Immersion is a method of teaching a language where the subject is ideally entirely or partially surrounded in the target language.

Business Benefits of Learning a Second Language

A second language is beneficial in a great many ways. Those who learn it as children are more likely to be fluent. This helps later in life, because most employers find it beneficial to have at least some knowledge in a second language. But this applies to adults as well. Even if an adult can pick up key phrases in another language, then communication in the business world is possible. The confidence attained from learning a second language is easily attained through partial and full immersion.


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Psychological Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Confidence is gained in learning a second language. In addition, it also changes the very mind that is learning the language. Immersion in a language is a process and a product. The method of correcting one's errors cements the language in the mind. Negotiation through the language will develop the ability of the 3rd ear to hear patterns in the language. It changes the thinking skills and patterns of the learner, especially in children.

Partial Immersion

This is the most practical solution for adults and children. It can be achieved at home by watching television, videos and listening to music in the target language. But this alone is not enough, language courses must also be taken to learn the language. Surrounding oneself in the language and inevitably being able to think in the target language is the goal of partial immersion, though it takes more time.

Another form of partial immersion is specific for children. They are taught in a dual language environment. For example, in some bilingual schools, classes like language, arts and social studies are taught in English, while Science and Math are taught in the afternoon. This will continue in some schools all the way until middle school.

Full Immersion

Full immersion is challenging and should not be attempted without a basic knowledge of the language. It involves going and living in the country that is the home of the target language. In addition to simply living in the country, the learner should take language courses in the country. Ideally they should be entirely in the target language. If the learner can't handle that though, then they must ask the teacher to repeat all commands and lessons in the target language, for more effective learning.

While it is easier for children to be taught through the method of immersion, it is not impossible. While immersion cannot simply be attained through programs like Rossetta Stone, it can be attained partially or completely with dedication or a trip to the country in which the target language is spoken.