10 Ways to Language Immersion Without Going Abroad
You want to learn a language fluently and you’ve already been learning it for some time. You’ve had your triumphs and struggles with learning your language in the process.
You believe in breaking down barriers between cultures.
You probably think the only way to learn a language very fluently is to travel abroad and immerse yourself in the language, and you probably think that going over to the country that speaks your language will magically make you fluent.
In my experience, I haven’t been abroad in any country for an extended period of time yet but have been abroad to both Europe and Asia. However in the past ten and a half years that I’ve learned foreign languages, I learned several of them, particularly Spanish and Portuguese, to conversational fluency without leaving the United States.
The main point is if you’re motivated and willing to put in the effort and have the resources, you can learn a language well even if you’re not able to go abroad.
Here are 10 ways that you can become fluent in a foreign language without going abroad.
1. Join conversation groups
Conversation groups are fundamental to attaining foreign language fluency. It is one of the best ways to practice speaking your foreign language because in a group you can all hold each other completely accountable for anything you say. Join Meetup.com or Couchsurfing to go to meetups where you can practice your foreign languages. In my experience Couchsurfing groups have been an excellent way to practice all of my languages with various travellers and students.
2. Want vs. Need
First of all you need to ask yourself WHY you want to learn a foreign language. What is your motivation for learning a foreign language in the first place? As Simon Sinek always says, “start with why”.
Think about the difference between want and need concerning your language learning journey. Want is more influenced by external motivations, in essence something that’s “nice-to-have”, whereas needs are influenced by internal motivations, something that’s “must have”.
3. Absorb any information in the target language you can find
Bruce Lee once said “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” Language learning is too often approached with the intent to memorize grammar rules and vocabulary. At the end of the day though, no matter how many times you try to memorize anything in a language, it does no good unless you constantly expose yourself to the language. To really learn a language well you need to absorb it into you, not memorize it, and it’s better to do this slowly and gradually.
4. Get Labelling at Home!
Where is the place you spend most of your time? Your house (other than the workplace)! Why wouldn’t you want to use sticky notes or post-its to decorate your house (and your pets if you want, though I wouldn’t recommend it!)? Labelling objects in your household is an easy task that isn’t too time-consuming and really fun and easy, and in addition, by seeing the sticky notes every day until you’ve mastered the content in your target language, you’ll constantly bombard your brain with new information. Be careful not to sit on them though!
You might write about daily happenings or important events in your life in a journal, and if you don’t it’d be a good suggestion for you to start today right after you read this! Journaling is one of the best ways to practice a language as it forces you to be on a regular writing schedule and to keep your accountability in check.
6. Find Conversation/Accountability Partners
In language learning, nothing can truly be accomplished alone. Having people to practice your language with is essential, but it’s often very hard to find conversation partners especially if your language is hard to find. One of the best tools I’ve tried is italki and that’s a resource I’d really recommend for you as well to get started.
7. Entertainment Like A Local
Everybody likes entertainment, you who’s reading this included. So why should language learning have to always be studying? You know you don’t always want to study and you’re too tired. A good suggestion is for you to indulge yourself in entertainment, but make one small change: change it to your target language. A great resource I can recommend is Viki, a global TV website where people watch and subtitle primetime shows and movies in over 200 languages. You can also find plenty of foreign language entertainment on Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. Make sure to find programs with subtitles (on YouTube the quality of subtitles varies greatly so be careful on YouTube, you might not always get good subtitles!).
8. Read, Read, Read!!!!
Do you enjoy reading? Ever wanted to read Cervantes, Dante, or Dostoyevsky in the the original? Wanted to read manga in Japanese? News and politics in Chinese? Sports articles in German or French? There are many reasons and motivations for you to read and a infinite amount of resources out there to get started with reading. Unless it’s a less common language with fewer resources I wouldn’t start a language without first going into graded readers to help with developing your reading skills in the beginning after you’ve mastered the basics, and then get into children’s books, young adult novels, nonfiction books, and literature in that order and also depending on your interests.
9. Get Into Podcasts and Radio
If you go onto iTunes, Google Play, etc., you can find all kinds of different podcasts for all kinds of languages from nearly every country in the world. You name it, they’ve got it. Podcasts provide lots of free audio material that you can work from and many podcasts include transcripts, some that are free and some that cost money. I’ll do more research on radio, but a really good source for you to get started with is Radio Garden, which has radio from all over the world in all kinds of different languages.
10. Cook with your foreign language!
Learning your foreign language can be made even more fun when you cook the cuisine of the foreign country where your language is spoken. Learning the names of cuisine is a great way to get acquainted with the culture of the foreign language you’re speaking.
So now that you’ve learned that it is indeed possible to learn a language to fluency without traveling abroad, it’s time to get out there and start learning it.
More language articles are coming soon!