Language Stories

Bringing immersive foreign language learning to the classroom

Posted by Language Stars on Dec 5, 2017 5:25:34 PM

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Wish you could whisk your students away for an immersive foreign language trip where they experience the culture and language firsthand? Language immersion in a foreign country is a wonderful way to support language development, but you don't necessarily have to leave the classroom to experience the benefits.

When you're in another country surrounded by a culture and the people that speak a particular language, it feels different than sitting in a classroom reciting vocabulary. When you write down your order at a bakery, it doesn't feel like studying. When you visit a restaurant and ask the waiter questions, it doesn't feel like a test. When you attend a movie, it feels like fun, not like school.

Students who go on a foreign language trip are flooded with sights and sounds that support their language learning. You can take cues from that and transform your class into an immersive learning experience through these three fun ideas.

Native guest speaker

Language Stars classes are taught by native speakers, which provides a rich learning opportunity for kids. Even if you speak the language, invite a guest native speaker to come and prepare a short presentation for the class. Then let students host a Q&A where everyone takes turns asking questions. Focus more on participation than linguistic perfection. The interaction is a highly valuable learning experience that mimics language immersion. What's more, it's a subtle way to enhance diversity education by exposing students to new people that perhaps look and live differently than they do.

Develop an immersive audio library

When you're in another country, just watching TV or listening to the radio enhances language retention. Students hear the flow, pronunciation and cadence of spoken words, which helps them learn and then mimic that when they speak the language. You may not be abroad, but you can build a library for students to access with these sorts of resources. Stock it with radio shows, podcasts, music and more — things that native speakers use and access each day. Then allow students free time to explore the new library and watch their excitement grow.

Cultural food tour

What's one of the first things you do on vacation, especially if it's to a foreign country? You research the food and make a list of must-try items. Food, culture and language all go hand in hand. This is a big opportunity that can be used in kids foreign language classes. There are a few ways to do this. First, the teacher could prepare a dish to share and then the class can ask questions as the dish is served and sampled. Food is the perfect conversation starter! Second, for older or more advanced students, each could be assigned a dish and asked to give a short presentation on it when it's served in class. Who doesn't like food and fun?

When you embrace a language-immersion mindset, you can transform your classroom into an exciting learning environment. Try these three simple activities out and see the response from students. It's sure to be a hit!

As an educator, what tips can you share to build an immersive language classroom environment? 

Topics: foreign language, Educator