Understanding the Theory Behind Immersion Learning
Think about your child’s first word. How did that milestone come about? Was it the result of formalized practice sessions complete with flashcards and vocabulary sheets?
Of course not. Your child spent many months listening to the sound of your voice, watching you interact with others around them, and naturally making meaning of what he or she heard before uttering that first (much praised) word.
Now, think about your own life. Think back to the last time you joined a new friend or work group and stumbled across a new term or phrase being thrown around. Almost inevitably, you found yourself using the word regularly within a week — without anyone explaining the meaning or the grammatical principles that govern its usage.
Both examples speak to how natural learning languages through immersion is. Parents looking to teach their kids a new language intuitively understand that kids won’t learn through rote memorization. Instead, they naturally learn through immersive experiences: by watching, hearing, and imitating vocabulary and sentence structure. That, in a nutshell, is the crux of the language immersion theory. In order to effectively learn a language, students need to use it in a real and meaningful way throughout their day.
Immersion programs are defined as those where students spend at least 50 percent of their time interacting in a language other than their native one. As the research has been more widely circulated and accepted, an increasing number of these schools have popped up. Ideally, all students would benefit from this kind of language education. But for parents attempting to encourage bilingualism in their kids without enrolling them in formal language lessons, there are a host of ways you can implement the practice at home.
The easiest of these techniques is employing a tested and proven interactive learning series. To be effective, the series you choose should follow a logical and research-driven curriculum, revolve around music, be conducted almost entirely in your child’s target language, and involve characters and storylines that are emotionally-engaging and relevant to your child’s day to day life. By listening to the music, dancing along with their favorite characters, and participating in fun call and response activities, kids get excited about the material and language development begins naturally.
Unsure where to begin your search? Professor Toto and his animated friends know just the place and your can begin your exploration into immersion learning with a free week of unlimited access to the series’ educational songs, videos, and activities.