Before the advent of the internet, children learned foreign languages from repeating words like parrots without context. They had to learn English from non-native speakers for years. By the age of two, children from non-English speaking nations can learn English. Why? Because they learn it in a natural way. This is immersion teaching, short.
Immersion is a new teaching method that has gained popularity. However, it has been a hallmark trait of great teachers. It takes planning, strategic thinking, and an open mind – one that is always looking for ways to make abstract and boring materials more appealing to children. This requires visual aids and lots of miming. Here are the reasons immersion teaching is so effective and how you can achieve it.
What is Immersion Teaching?
Teachers can use various immersion techniques to transport students to a place where they speak and think in the target language. If you are enrolled in an immersion program that teaches French your teacher will recreate the authentic French experience in class. They’re likely to make you eat lots and listen to Edith Piaf as you discuss Victor Hugo’s Les Mis.
One rule is that no one should be allowed speak in another language.
Learning in a context where your target language is the only way you can communicate is the best way to learn. Marketing often emphasizes that it is the most efficient way to learn a language. However, this is not as important. The ability to bridge the gap between language and real world situations and people improves processing and storage of linguistic information. Experiential learning is, in a nutshell, for the long-term.
You can’t forget how to ask for a baguette in French once you have smelt it.
What is Immersion Teaching?
How can you learn a foreign tongue without having someone translate it for you? It’s easy – play charades.
Different concepts can be explained using words, but not only. Pictures are one example. By annotating photos from books and TV with words from us, every toddler learns their native language. You might be wondering what to do with emotions and abstract concepts like God or jealousy. Mime might be used by immersion teachers to explain these concepts. Moving pictures and music are equally effective teaching aids.
Immersion must also teach grammar. Immersion teachers emphasize communication in order to teach grammar, but they do not need to explain the linguistic systems or rules that differ from one language to another.
Take this as an example: We don’t teach our kids linguistic rules when we are young. They don’t get instructions on how to distinguish nouns and verbs, or how to use prepositions. They learn all these rules by simply talking.
Talking and listening are two of the best ways to learn a language.
Here are some principles of immersion teaching
The immersion teaching principle is based on several principles, including the no-translation rule (a core strategic approach) and the didactic structure which encourages experiential learning through communications. There are many techniques available, but the variety depends on how imaginative and approachable the teacher is. These are the fundamentals of immersion teaching.
Immersion teaching, as we have already mentioned, uses context to communicate meanings that are not possible in familiar languages. Because every language has a cultural context, it reveals the uniqueness of its speakers. Students in immersion programs learn French culture, including history, tradition, politics and art, and vice versa.
It makes use of tools to understand input.
The no-translation rule introduces the concept of comprehensible input to teaching, which can be a challenge for immersion teachers. Simply stated, comprehensible input is the part of a language that students understand. It’s a problem if no one understands the teacher. Teaching a foreign language requires visuals and body language.
Stacking examples for better understanding.
Simply put, stacking can be described as a collection of different examples. The more examples you have, the easier it is to understand. This is particularly true for words and other concepts in linguistics that have different meanings depending upon the context. Students might not understand an idea or learn the correct meaning if they don’t have enough examples. Instructors in immersion can stack by using multiple real-life scenarios.
In a familiar setting, teaching new concepts
A familiar context can also be a powerful and useful way to understand new concepts. You can, for example, structure a sentence with words that are familiar to your students but add one new word. Instead of you explaining what the word means, students should be able connect the dots and understand its meaning.
Immersion teaching can be a two-way road.
Listening to only other people speak is not enough to learn a foreign language. To master a language, you must ask questions. Immersive teaching should always be participative. Both students and teachers must communicate. Students should be invited by teachers to discuss a topic or subject, serve as facilitators and give feedback.
Immersion teaching has many benefits, not only in the area of language learning. Immersion programs teach students to think, speak, and live in the same way as people from other cultures. They also learn to speak and understand the target language. But that’s not all. Immersion also teaches holistic thinking as well as altruism.