Immersion works, but it doesn't come without hard work. The key is to start trying, and the rest will follow.
Some people say that in high school, the summer should be as productive as the school year. I wanted to do something with my summer, but I wanted it to be something that I would enjoy, and that would benefit me, not just my college application. The Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy stood out, because I wanted to learn German the real way, in an immersive environment. I wanted to engage with others who were also passionate about learning a language. My perspective on language learning completely changed at the Academy. Immersion works, but it doesn't come without hard work. The key is to start trying, and the rest will follow.
Here are five ways to make the most of your language immersion experience:
- Ask questions. Don't be afraid. Your teachers/RAs/peers are there to help you. Ask about everything and anything. Learn as much as you can.
- Write it down. Yeah, you think you're going to remember all 3,798 words you learned on your nature hike. You won't. Unless you write them down. Write everything down. Then read when you have a free moment, or before you go to bed. It helps immensely.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I understand the paralyzing fear of using a wrong word. Conjugating incorrectly. Butchering the pronunciation. You will make really bad mistakes. (I accidentally asked an RA out. Guess what? I lived! And on the upside, I know how to do that now.) Mistakes. Don't. Matter. You will improve. You will get it right. Maybe even this time. You will never know unless you try. And on that note...
- Talk as much as you can. Practice makes permanent. So talk a lot. Listen to the comments, and repeat what you said with the new word, grammar, etc. Narrate your life. Chat during free moments. The more you do, the better you will get.
- Stick to the Language Pledge®. This kind of goes without saying, but unless you only speak, hear, read and write your language, you're not going to learn as much as you could. I had two Language Pledges. One that I signed on the first day, and one just for me. I am only going to THINK German. It's hard. Much easier to slip up in your head. But the effort, that is what makes it easier. Surrounded by only the language, you really have no choice but to learn.