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Why Attend a Language Immersion Summer Program

A language learner in today’s world has a wide range of options, from formal academic classes to online apps.  Faced with so many possibilities, students want to know what the best choice is for learning a new language in an efficient, practical, and enjoyable way. Experience has shown that a language immersion summer program is one of the best options. Let’s look at the reasons why many new and continuing language learners chose this path to success in acquiring a new language:

Understanding Language Immersion Programs

To be immersed in something means to be surrounded by it.  In language learning, this needs to be achieved in two ways for maximum benefit. First, in a language immersion program, the classes are taught almost entirely in the new language. This means that explanations and instructions are presented in the new language (also called the target language), rather than the native language of the students. Of course, these instructions are presented at a level the students can understand.  Second, the student needs to be surrounded by the target language when they leave the classroom and go out into the real world.  Both intensive courses and semi-intensive courses offer sufficient class hours to prepare the student for effective practical communication in daily life.  The benefits of studying in an immersive classroom environment will be multiplied when the student can practice what they’ve been taught in class in everyday life .  

One way to get even more benefit from a summer language immersion program is with a homestay. The student will live with a host family who is at a native speaker level of proficiency. Host families are committed to providing an even more immersive experience by interacting with the student in the target language. For this option, be sure to choose a school that carefully selects host families for their dedication to providing a great experience for their student guests. 

Advantages of Language Immersion

Accelerate your progress towards fluency: 

The goal of any language learner is to achieve a level as near as possible to native fluency. This means that they “think” directly in the new language, rather than translating from their first language.  Researchers at the prestigious Georgetown University have found that when a student is immersed in the new language, their brains will begin to process the new language in the same way as a native speaker.  The brain will even manage grammar in the same way as a native speaker. As grammar is one area that many find difficult to master even after much book work, this is an amazing benefit of taking a summer language immersion course. 

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Enjoy authentic experiences in new cultures:

Anyone who has traveled knows that there is often a big difference between the image of a foreign culture and reality. When you are immersed in another culture, you’ll gain many genuine insights into the customs of the new culture that you can’t  experience through the tv, movies, or the Internet.  The local residents you meet will impart a deeper understanding of the subtleties of their culture.  You may even learn different ways of doing things that you can use to improve your life back home.  

Many of the aesthetic, or sensory, experiences of a new culture can only be gained by living inside it. You can’t really experience the tastes and smells of a different culture through media. Genuinely authentic cuisine has a uniqueness that is often hard to duplicate outside of its place of origin.

Summer Language Programs vs. Traditional Learning

Students in a language learning classroom participate in a variety of exercises designed to improve their speaking, reading, listening and writing skills  in the new language. These exercises need to be practiced in the real world to really improve fluency. For example, students often perform role plays in class to mimic common situations in real life, such as eating out or shopping.  Living where your new language is the primary language, as you will in a summer immersion program, gives you many chances to practice these situations outside the classroom.  Successfully ordering a real restaurant meal or asking for directions on the street will supercharge confidence in your abilities to communicate in the new language. 

Another common exercise for language students is  reading and interpreting signs, advertisements and notices. These are very practical skills that you’ll be able to perfect when you are surrounded by the new language outside the classroom. 

Learning a new language  in a real-world context is a great motivator.  Students who need to use the new language to survive outside that classroom are more engaged and pay better attention. As a result, they are more focused and tend to retain what they’ve learned in the classroom better. 

Choosing the Right Program

As we’ve seen, the immersive language program experience consists of two parts: the immersive classroom, and being surrounded by the new language in everyday life.  You’ll get the best results when you have both these elements in your summer language program. 

Some tips for choosing the best program :

  • Look for a school where the curriculum and instructors emphasize real-world, practical language learning. At Language On,  the classroom work is designed to prepare you for communicating in the real world. 
  • Choose a school that takes care to place you in a class that matches your level. Remember that in an immersive classroom,  explanations and instructions are given in the new language. It’s important that these are presented using language appropriate to your level. The school you choose should give you a placement exam before you start to make sure you’ll be studying at the right level so you can fully participate in the immersive classroom.
  • Attend your summer language program in an area where your target language is the first language.  This gives you the advantage of meeting many native speakers, so you’ll have great models for correct pronunciation and reinforcement of the everyday language you learn in class.  As many areas in the United States have welcomed people from all over the world, you can also gain insights  from the language learning experiences of the non-native speakers you’ll meet. 
  • Choose a school location in a place that offers many options for relaxation and entertainment. It’s summer, and you’ll probably be on vacation, so you’ll want to be able to chill out and have some fun. Language On offers summer immersion programs in various exciting locations throughout the United States.

Realizing Personal Growth and Confidence

The immersive language program can be a challenge for some students. Being surrounded by another language both in the classroom and in daily life requires a strong commitment and determination. The rewards for successfully meeting this challenge are well worth the effort. People who complete a language immersion summer program find that they have acquired a strong sense of their own abilities and can more confidently approach challenges in other areas of life. The ability to adapt to different cultures promotes a flexible mindset that can be applied to problem solving in both professional situations and in other academic efforts.

A summer language program is a great way to make your summer vacation a productive one. You’ll maximize your learning potential while discovering new cultures and gaining skills you can use in any aspect of life. If you choose your program carefully, you’ll be able to accelerate your language progress while you enjoy a relaxing vacation. Attend a language immersion summer program at Language On for an unforgettable experience! 

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