by Kate Kerns
Learning any language FAST requires immersion. Why is Spanish immersion so effective? If you think about how a child learns their first language, the major part of the learning process is simply hearing people nearby speak the language and then attempting, haltingly at first, to engage in conversation.
Of course, children learn their first language naturally, but the process is little different for an adult learning a second or third language. The immersion principles remain valid and effective.
The big difference between immersion and other forms of rote learning is the key to learning Spanish fast. You see what immersion does is to submerge you in conversation. Natural conversation – the types of conversation you will want to have when you get to that point on your Spanish learning journey. By getting submerged in the language, you are following the fastest path to conversational Spanish possible.
This is because simply trying to learn Spanish by heart, or from a book or CD, generally gives you great exposure to individual vocabulary words and educates you on technical conjugation of verbs in various tenses. Important stuff, but only part of learning Spanish and not the most important part!
What is missing from the traditional approaches is the Spanish immersion in real conversation and complete sentence structure. Only when you understand Spanish sentence structure will you grasp true conversational Spanish.
There are many ways to achieve Spanish immersion:
1. Watch Spanish movies with English Subtitles: You can hear the language being spoken yet follow the conversation on the screen. It is amazing how much you will pick up by this very simple and inexpensive technique. Obviously, it helps to have a baseline of basic Spanish words in advance to gain maximum benefit.
2. Find local restaurants staffed by native Spanish speakers: Believe me, these exist in most areas. Order your food in Spanish and strike up a conversation with your server. They will be happy to get to speak their home tongue, and will be impressed that you are making the effort. This may lead to friendship or an introduction to other groups where Spanish is spoken.
3. Consider an exchange student: If you take in an exchange student from Spain, Mexico, or South America, perhaps on a high school or college exchange, you will be doing them a big favor, and you will have access at the same time to a native speaker with whom you can converse in Spanish. Spanish immersion is achieved right in your own home!
4. Choose a Spanish learning software which incorporates audio or video immersion features: This is an excellent approach, as long as you choose the right program. Many claim to have immersion, but focus on immersion in individual words. Great for vocabulary expansion – not so great for developing conversation skills in Spanish!
These are just a few Spanish immersion tips. But if you spend a few minutes thinking about it, I’ll bet you can come up with even more Spanish immersion ideas effortlessly!