Immersion is the best way to learn a language – and there’s no need to move overseas to do this. Moving to another country is only one approach to creating an environment where the target language is a part of your everyday life. Even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll immerse yourself in the language.
A better approach is to create an immersion environment and experience no matter where you live. An immersion environment is all about finding opportunities to bring the language into your current lifestyle and activities simply staying at home.
In fact, as ideal as language immersion abroad may sound, it sometimes isn’t always possible from a cost or time standpoint. The good news is travel does not mean immersion. You can set up a pretty effective immersion environment with a little creativity and dedication. And the best part is that your home immersion environment can be as long-term or as short-term as you like and whatever you set up isn’t “final”. You can always add to it as you go.
Here are a few ways to create an immersion environment at home.
Learn languages with Netflix
Watching television is one of the best ways to immerse yourself at home. But the question is: how in the world do you find German TV shows if you live in Canada? The easiest way is Netflix.
Netflix is a language learning goldmine; there are hundreds of movies and Tv shows in over twenty languages. Plus, the great thing about this streaming service is that many people already have a subscription. Simply go to netflix.com/browse/audio, choose your language in the drop-down menu and you get access to all the movies and TV shows available in that language.
Sit down, binge watch and learn.
Listen to languages with Audible
Audiobooks are amazing to immerse yourself in a new language because they allow you to easily add many hours of listening practice throughout the week. You can listen to them while doing daily activities like walking the dog, driving to work or cleaning the house.
Audible has a virtually endless library of audiobooks in many languages and you can easily find audiobooks that are appropriate for your current skill level in the language. You can even slow it down to make it simpler to understand.
Explore languages by reading books
Although often underestimated, reading is a great way to improve your overall knowledge of a language. Books in foreign languages are quite easy to find because they are all over the internet. Again, just make sure to look for material that matches your skill level in the language. You can start with children pictured books at first and make your way up. If you look around, there are many free or cheap books available because the copyright laws protecting them have expired. Amazon is probably the best way to find a great variety of books of all kinds.
Master languages with YouTube
It is estimated that 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every single minute. You can also navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages. There are videos available in your target language on pretty much every topic you can think of.
Simply find a topic, translate it in the language you want to learn and type it into YouTube. You will instantly see all the videos available.
The beauty of YouTube is that you can watch material on any topic you find interesting. For instance, if you are into videogames, you can enjoy watching gaming Youtubers in Spanish. It is a great way for you to get used to the speed of native speakers.
Personally, I like to watch Ted Talks or other conferences when learning languages but the possibilities are endless.
Listen to music on Spotify
One lovely way to immerse yourself in a language is through music. Music also provides a backdrop for our lives. Think about some of the important events in your life. Now, try to pull up the sounds that accompanied those events. I’ll bet some of them were set to music! When you hear certain songs, do you drift off to memories that you’ve got connected to them? Music is a powerful thing. It’s part of the human experience, and our brains just latch right onto it.
So, it’s always a good idea to have foreign language music playing as often as possible. When you’re working, running in a park or doing stuff around the house, play music. The first step is just getting a solid playlist that you can pop on when you’re ready to listen.
CDs of popular music can be readily found for download or purchase via Spotify. Install them on your phone or tablet and take the tunes with you.
In the car or at home, set your radio to a foreign language station with a site like TuneIn. Listening to music directly from a country where the language is spoken lets your mind become accustomed to the nuances of the language and culture. You’ll pick up words, expressions and phrases without even realizing you’re learning. And when the music’s playing, sing along! Don’t be shy. Remember, it’s all about immersive learning, so immerse yourself in the lyrics even if you can’t understand them fully.
Share languages with language exchange
Eventually, you’ll want to start having conversations with other people. This is important to improve your speaking skills. It can easily be done with online language exchange. Websites like studenz.com are very useful to connect with language learners from all over the world.
You can interact with native speakers of your target language for free and help them learn your language while they help you learn theirs.
Write: Keep a journal
Many language teachers said it to me, and I wish I had noticed its efficiency much earlier. It might have greatly helped me!
I discovered this through a good website called www.italki.com. They have a feature called “Notebook”, where you are encouraged to write, and native speakers and teachers will correct your entries for free.
For a time, when I was learning German, I forced myself (yes, language learning is a commitment!) to write something meaningful every day. It was a great way to start thinking about something meaningful to share; plus, I made great progress! Other students and teachers will correct what you wrote, and you learn a lot of vocab and phrases that way.
Whether you love journaling or not, it’s totally easy to start doing it in a foreign language. You must just be consistent. I would also advise you to show it to a teacher or native speaker for feedback and correction.
Final tip: Change your phone’s language settings. This small adjustment is one of the easiest ways to integrate learning a new language into your daily routine. Opt-out of your mother language on your smartphone and you’ll find yourself intuitively navigating your phone and engaging with useful new vocabulary to make phone calls, send texts, and use your favourite apps.
Let us know in the comments below if you and your language exchange friends have ever studied a language staying in the comfort of your own home.
Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer