We all agree that one of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to completely immerse yourself in the country where that language is spoken, right? After all, the goal of an immersion program is that you eat, sleep, breath, and otherwise operate in the target language. But what if spending lots of money and time in another country are not an option? What then? I’m glad you asked!
Look around you, and you’ll see Smart phones, Smart TVs, iPads, iPods, and computers everywhere. With all of this technology, we have 24/7 accessibility to information. Can you see where I’m going here? You got it! Why not put this technology to work in helping learn a new language? C’est une bonne idée! Great idea, right? To help get you started, here are some examples of the various resources incorporating technology that I have used for French. You can also take these ideas and apply them to other foreign languages.
Admittedly, as a foreign language teacher, I used to cringe at the thought of teaching a foreign language on the internet. After all, there couldn’t possibly be valuable communication taking place, right? My goodness how things have changed! In a world where we talk to each other via texting more than in person, it’s not surprising to find that we are using technology when it comes to quenching our never-ending thirst for knowledge.
If you decide to see what online courses are out there, you’ll find that there are many available, and that tuition can often be less expensive than that of traditional brick and mortar classes. Online classes vary greatly in content and format, so you will want to do your research before signing up. My personal recommendation, since I have a bit of experience in this area, is to go with a live course, not a prerecorded one. This is best for getting immediate feedback from and access to the teacher, and it also allows you the opportunity to dialogue with fellow classmates.
Do you like to watch movies? Do you have a favorite movie that you know by heart? How about watching it in the target language? Most movies on DVD as well as some of the newer Netflix Originals have options for using subtitles or changing the audio to a different language. The very popular TV show “Fuller House,” which airs on Netflix, has audio options in German, Spanish, French and Mandarin. My favorite way to immerse myself in French is to watch the movie with both the audio and the subtitles in French. Talk about immersion! Magnifique!
However, if you’re just starting out, you might want to select the target language audio option but use the English subtitles rather than French so that you can understand what’s being said. After all, it’s supposed to be fun, and you will want to understand some of what you’re hearing so that you aren’t just wasting your time. And by the way, it’s always a good idea to watch the same movie or show again and again because repetition is key in foreign language learning.
How else can we use technology for immersing ourselves in a foreign language? I’m sure you’re already somewhat familiar with the Internet. This is an invaluable tool when it comes to connecting us with people, events, and places from around the world. Beyond the internet, there are also mobile apps that are quick, convenient, and interactive. Many of these contain personalized information and can occasionally provide offline access. There are many websites and apps out there that work well for practicing your target language, so let’s take a quick look at some of them just to give you an idea of how it works.
- News — Most of us watch the news in our native language to find out what’s happening nearby and around the world, but have you ever thought about checking out the news in a different language? For example, if you’re trying to learn French, you could go to com where you could read the articles and watch the videos in French. Then change the language to English and check your proficiency. C’est formidable!
- Museums — Do you like art? How about checking out the famous Louvre Museum in Paris from the comfort of your couch? The link provided is a video available in the Questions d’enfants category where kids are discussing a piece of art located in the museum. One of the words that you hear used over and over in the video is le tricheur. Can you guess what it means? If you guessed “the cheater,” you are correct!
- French Cities — Is a trip to Paris on your bucket list? There’s no better time than now to start planning it, and while you’re cruising around the com webpage, take a little time to immerse yourself in the language of love!
- YouTube — The videos on YouTube are endless! You can be trendy and listen to today’s French music or take a more nostalgic approach and check out Edith Piaf’s famous La Vie en Rose. Some of the videos also give you both French and English subtitles that are helpful in translating the lyrics, so it might be worth searching a bit before settling on one particular video. Tip: use French key words in the search engine, and you will more likely pull up authentic French music. For example: try using les chansons françaises instead of the words “French songs.”
- Social Media — Do you have a Facebook account? I am guilty of it. But on the bright side, I am able to follow a number of French pages on my Facebook account where I have access to beautiful photos of Paris, current events, and plenty of comments that enable me to practice reading French. Here are two of my favorite pages…
- Mobile Apps — When you think of foreign language learning and mobile apps, you might think of educational apps that were created specifically for second language learning. But did you know that there are French games like “Hangman” that are available for free? Bravo! And if you are like me and love music, you can download French radio station apps for free also. Super! Maybe you’re more of a bookworm? Do you have the Kindle app on your phone or iPad? Great! There are many French books available on Kindle for your reading pleasure. Here are a few examples of what you might find on mobile apps:
If you have the time and money, by all means, go and fully immerse yourself in the country where your target language is spoken. But if that’s not possible, don’t be discouraged. There are so many options out there that allow you to practice speaking your second language and to have fun doing it!
Thanks for reading my ideas on immersion through technology. I hope you’ll check out my next blog: “How to Immerse Yourself in Foreign Language Around the House.” À bientôt!
Gina earned her Bachelor of Science degree in French Education from University of Georgia and furthered her studies at the renowned Middlebury College’s French immersion program. During her college years, she was blessed to study abroad in Tours, France and the rest is history! She has taught in various capacities over the years from elementary to high school and is thrilled to be in her current role teaching students from all over the world through online learning. Gina brings her love for everything French: the language, the culture, the country, and the people, right into the classroom! When she’s not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, children and many fur babies.