All people know that once you learn to swim, you will never forget this skill (even if you do not go to the pool for the rest of your life). However, it’s possible to forget a foreign language in just several years. It’s all about the workings of the human brain. When a person enters the water, the brain remembers the only action that can be done in the water – to swim. This action is necessary for survival in the aquatic environment and cannot be replaced by anything else, so the skill of swimming is considered by the brain as necessary.
But when it is necessary to answer a question, the brain has two options: to speak in the native language or in a foreign language. If a person more and more often chooses the first option, the brain constantly substitutes one action for another – it “turns on” the native language instead of the foreign one. At that, the skill of dialogue in a foreign language is considered by the brain as unnecessary for survival, and all unnecessary things tend to be displaced by the memory.
There is only one way out – consciously put yourself in an environment where the constant use of a foreign language is necessary. This is called the language environment. Of course, it would be nice to pack your bags and go to a foreign country for a couple of years. But not everyone can afford such long trips, so the language environment must be created at home. To do this, you need to learn to do as much as you can in a foreign language instead of your native one.
You don’t have to leave everything behind and go to Spain for example, to immerse yourself in a Spanish-speaking environment – Spain can come to you! And we’ll tell you how.
What is a language environment and why is it needed?
Simply put, the language environment is the environment in which the acquisition of a foreign language takes place. If you do not have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a natural foreign language environment, immerse yourself in an artificial one, that is, begin to do the usual things in the language you’re studying.
Why do you need it?
Immersion in the environment:
- helps to improve grammar knowledge and increase the quality of spoken language;
- increases vocabulary;
- helps you improve your language level in the shortest time possible.
The method of language immersion was popular in the last century: a group of people were placed in a separate house alone with a teacher for 10-20 days, where it was forbidden to utter even 1 word in their native language. People lived according to a pre-designed scenario, and the output was real language improvement. This method was especially suitable for those who needed to improve technical vocabulary.
Who would benefit from being in a language environment?
Those who have already passed the initial stage of learning and are somewhere between the Pre-intermediate and Intermediate levels. Those who have the Elementary level will find it difficult to read non-adapted texts and listen to native speakers. This will not bring the expected effect, and only create unnecessary stress and frustration in their abilities. Beginners are better to spend time on the accumulation of vocabulary and assimilation of basic grammar with the help of a teacher.
11 tips to immerse yourself in the language without leaving home
11. Social media in the language you study
Set all social networks you use (and even your computer and mobile gadgets) to the foreign language you are studying. This method works: you know perfectly well what the sections are called in your native language, and now learn their foreign equivalents.
2. Divide your home into zones
Divide your home into zones and designate those where you will think and speak only in a foreign language. Let it be the couch in the living room, the desk, the shower, etc. – no matter. The main thing is to strictly follow the rules.
3. Read more in a foreign language
Fill your home with foreign language reading materials. This can be anything:
- word stickers;
- smartphone apps with a daily posting in the language you are learning;
- products with foreign-language labels, etc.
4. Watch movies & TV series
Watching movies and TV series in the target language helps you not only memorize words but also work on intonation and accent. You can watch videos with subtitbles, but don’t get carried away with them. The use of subtitles can replace listening to reading and does not actually develop listening skills.
5. Find an online language learning partner
Find someone who can teach you from the beginning and help you learn the language, so you can improve your own skills. Or find a more experienced person who can “pull” you along. This can be a native speaker (friends through correspondence), online tutors, etc.
6. Write more in the foreign language
Take notes in the foreign language you are learning. Everything from shopping lists to pie recipes to study notes. This method works very well, but you also need to know the language at a decent level. In a diary we write about our thoughts, i.e. a diary teaches us to reason in a foreign language, and this skill brings you much closer to a native speaker.
7. Hang stickers
Improve your vocabulary with stickers on all items at home. Write the name of the object on the sticker and stick it on the object. This helps to learn the names very quickly.
8. Listen to the radio
Listen to the radio, podcasts and songs in a foreign language, especially the radio, where there is a lot of live communication. It is easy to find online radio on the Internet these days.
9. Do or watch video-games walkthroughs
Gamers can immerse themselves in the language without even taking a break from their favorite pastime. You only need to turn on the video of a game walkthrough in the language you’re learning on Youtube or start playing this game by yourself. In modern quests and RPGs, characters talk in beautiful actor voices, often repeating the same phrases, which creates a great environment for memorization.
10. Think in the language you’re learning
Learn to think only in the foreign language. You need to stop switching from one language to another, because it takes a lot out of your brain. It’s not easy in the beginning, but it’s worth it!
Don’t forget to actively learn foreign words. Create a dictionary in the Langavia app and add into it all the unfamiliar words that you come across on your way to mastering the language. After that, take 15-30 minutes a day to memorize these words through game-based exercises and in a week you’ll be surprised at how effective this approach is.
- watch movies subtitled in the target language;
- set your phone to the language you are learning;
- watch YouTube videos in the language you study;
- meet people who are native speakers of the language you are learning;
- listen to radio, podcasts, and songs in the language you study.