First things first, what exactly is immersion-based learning, actually? A n immersion-based learning means learning a language in the most authentic and natural way possible. This is a great way to learn something, as you can experience firsthand almost all aspects of life in your target language.
Almost any language learning expert will most likely tell you that immersion is the holy grail of language learning. It is the key to success. "Just take the plunge and immerse yourself in the language!" Simple, or?
Not necessarily. On the one hand, since the beginning of the pandemic, it has become more difficult to fully immerse oneself in cultures by traveling to other countries. This means fewer chances to experience authentic language and culture firsthand (thanks, COVID). Add to that the fact that there are hundreds of different podcasts, apps, YouTube videos and books on offer when learning a new language. Immersion becomes more of a confusing guessing game than a useful concept as a result.
Read on to learn our top tips for immersing yourself in a language (and also how NOT to immerse yourself in a new language!). They are useful if you want to learn Chinese, English, French.. . or want to learn another language.
How language immersion is most effective
We have already seen that immersive language learning usually means learning a new language in the most natural way possible. In practice, this would mean living in the country where the language is spoken. However, since this is not an option at this time, it is necessary to find other ways to achieve immersion. For example, it is good to know that interacting with the world through the language you are learning can also be called immersion.
What are the benefits of immersive learning?
Learning a language through immersion has several advantages. When learning a new language, you can interact with native speakers and steadily improve your skills by adding new vocabulary and contexts to your knowledge base. Immersion gives you access to an authentic version of the language because you are exposed to native speakers and different contexts (just like with Memrise !)
Immersion versus submersion: Immersion is a far superior learning method compared to submersion. Immersing yourself in a language means that you can consult tools, as well as tips and tricks to help you learn the language and culture. Immersion on the other hand would push you into the deep end without resources or support.
How immersion does NOT work
Did you know that you can also get things wrong with immersion, especially if you are a beginner in the world of language learning?
Bite down on the grammar of language with a complicated novel
Actually reading a novel in your target language seems like a great way to immerse yourself in the language. However, unless you are using a child’s picture book, you are likely to encounter long and convoluted sentences in the past tense, or challenging vocabulary. This would discourage even the biggest language lover from learning a language.
In fact, studies have shown that focusing too early on grammar (and thus the theoretical considerations of why words and phrases are formed the way they are) can actually slow down your progress. We’re not saying you should never pick up a book, but there are better ways to engage with language vocabulary and grammar as a beginner.
Switching your devices to another language
Let’s explain this briefly. If you are already somewhat familiar with a language, this can be a good additional step to get you further accustomed to it. But if you’re just starting to learn a language, you’ll just waste your time being confronted with "este accesorio puede no ser compatible" and trying to figure out what it means (although, newsflash: you need a new battery charger).
In other words, we’re not totally against changing cell phone or laptop language, but we are against things that waste our time and complicate our lives unnecessarily. If you want to experience full digital immersion, why not just find a blog or podcast on a topic you enjoy and learn a language that way?
Ignore your interests
To make the previous point even more concrete, don’t ignore what already interests you in your native language! That could be cooking, Star Wars, powerlifting, or skin care. If you like the topic, try to consume content from it in your new language. You’re much more likely to continue learning a topic you’re already familiar with. So we strongly recommend that you immerse yourself in content that also really please.
The 5 best tips for immersion in a language
Don’t ignore your interests!
We know we said basically the same thing a second ago, but IT IS SO IMPORTANT! You’ll never stay motivated to keep learning if you surround yourself with content that doesn’t interest you. Don’t force yourself to find an online magazine about French economics if economics doesn’t interest you anyway! Don’t learn new topics until you know the basics of the language inside and out.
Surround yourself with content that is just a touch above your language level.
In a world where there is no COVID, we would of course encourage you to travel as much as possible and experience your target language firsthand. That’s not really possible at the moment, but that’s okay. We have thousands of videos of native speakers ready for you to save the day.
Learn with Locals is designed to mimic the experience you would otherwise have in your target language country and instantly immerse you in your target language. It consists of thousands of short and snappy clips of people using real language in context, exactly as you would encounter it in that country. Think of these videos as a way to learn about Spain (or Japan, France, or Russia) and their languages and cultures!) closer to you. They’re the next best thing, right after a trip by plane to your target language country. They allow you to immerse yourself in language learning from the comfort of your sofa.
Let’s get physical, physical! (And emotional, to be exact):
Gestures, facial expressions and context are not to be neglected when learning a language if you really want to immerse yourself in it. When you think about it, languages are not just words. Yes, that might be a bit deep for a blog post. But we rely heavily on people’s body language to help us connect with them and understand them better. Of course, we’re all doing Social Distancing at the moment, but when it’s safe again, there’s a lot to be said for paying attention to someone’s gestures when trying to understand them.
Similarly with emotions. If you want to get immersion right, you should pay closer attention to them! Humans are emotional by nature. We are not robots (at least not yet!) and we all learn languages for the same reason, so to speak: to connect more deeply with people and their cultures in order to understand and be understood by others. Learning languages through immersion is helpful because it touches your heart, not just your brain – A person’s facial expressions and tone of voice can also be crucial to your understanding.
Watch for linguistic "pain points"
When you’re fully immersed in a language, there are bound to be a few tricky words or phrases that can make learning a little more difficult. With rose-colored glasses on our noses, we would say that these unique characteristics are what give beauty to different languages in the first place. But in real life, we know it can get really annoying when words confuse you.
For example, it can be easy to become perplexed when switching between your native language and your new language. If you’re learning French, you may have encountered a few false friends on occasion. Or you may be overwhelmed by different variations of the same language, like Mexican Spanish and Castilian Spanish. Making mistakes here is not the end of the world, but it would be good to keep an eye out for them while immersing yourself in a new language.
Practice briefly, but often.
Last but not least, we need to practice, practice, practice to immerse ourselves in a new language, and do it briefly, and often. Because small bits of learning add up to big success over time, and as you probably already know, learning a new language is a marathon, not a sprint. Did you know that with Memrise you can set daily goals and learning reminders to stay motivated and on track? Also, there are many helpful online resources and immersion software for language learning that will help you (like us, for example&).
Overall, learning a language through immersion allows you to connect directly with people and their culture. Language learning with Memrise is designed to provide all the fun, variety, humor and beauty you would experience living in, or traveling abroad. Memrise is an immersive learning app, and we’d love for you to join in and start learning a new language. Need more information about learning a new language?? Just visit our language learning homepage or