Think of it this way: If you were to find yourself in a foreign country, having no prior knowledge of the language that was spoken there, what would you have at your immediate disposal? Atmosphere: the pervading tone or mood of a place or a situation. What does that mean? The events that are happening around you—the gestures of the people with whom you’re speaking or of those you’re simply observing. Or atmosphere could refer to the visual cues about what things are called in a hotel, in a restaurant, or on the street. You’d hear the language being spoken and you’d immediately—or soon enough—begin to internalize what’s what.
You may have recently seen some of our ads, like the one to the right, that simply demonstrate that you don’t have to know a language to understand it when it’s being actively demonstrated.
The challenge. The rewards.
Learning a new language is a commitment. Anyone can learn a few words in another language, but setting your mind to learning a new language is a challenge in and of itself. Now comes the question: What’s the best way to learn a language?
Here’s anther scenario: When a baby is born, s/he doesn’t know any language. All they know to do is listen to their surroundings. It’s through exposure to spoken words being physically associated with things that a baby learns vocabulary, syntax, and, ultimately, language.
Now, you might be thinking that babies have a distinct advantage over adults when it comes to learning a new language—because not only are they captive audiences, but their brains are sponges, processing incoming information into useable information. Your argument would be sound, but it doesn’t imply the end of the world for our aging minds. In fact, studies show that learning a new language in adulthood can stave off the affects of Alzheimer’s disease and help maintain a strong, vibrant mind into old age.
Benefits of learning in an immersive environment
Who wants to conjugate some verbs?! Yeah, me neither. Textbook learning can get you to a certain level of language learning, but I can tell you from personal experience that there’s nothing better than being on the ground (or in an immersive app) to help you learn and understand everyday language—which, come on, is why you’re learning a new language in the first place, right? To have real conversations with real people who speak your target language!
When I was in my junior year of college, I lived in France as part of my French Language, French Literature bachelor of arts program. When I landed in Paris I felt very prepared for my time in the City of Light, but I had a rude awakening out of the gate when I encountered la langue quotidienne. Yep, I found out the hard way that all the books I’d read and the lessons I’d gotten straight A’s in didn’t prepare me for the simple, daily language of my host country.
Armed with the basics of my studies, I removed myself from my English-speaking class members and dove headfirst into the corners of the city and just started talking to people. I’m here to tell you there was no better way I could’ve gained the level of fluency that I did in those (way too) short two months.
The moral of the story?
Surround yourself with your target language. Travel. Watch foreign flicks. Download a language learning app*. Listen to radio shows in your target language. Subscribe to a monthly language-learning program. Become a sponge, and you’ll reach your goal of proficiency, and maybe fluency, faster than you can say, “Supercalifragi . . . ,” well, you know what I mean.
*Also available for your mobile Android device.