|How to Make the Most of a Language Immersion Camp|
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If you plan to do a language immersion camp (a trip in a foreign country where you study your target language in its natural settings), or another trip of the same kind, where the main purpose is to improve and practice your target language, then there are some things you should consider to make the most out of it. You can really make decisive advances in your target language in as little as two weeks if you do it right, but you can also totally lose your time or money, which is alas the easiest and most common
The best thing is to ...
- Go on the trip alone, so you won't be tempted to speak your monther tongue all the time.
- Live in a family with no other foreign student, so you will have to speak your target language for the most basic things, and you will hear it all day long.
- Get one-to-one lessons with a smart, sympathetic and competent native speaker. Group course are no good and you will need much more time. Bad teachers do exist, and are well worth avoided. Some people teach a language which is not their monther tongue; they may be a necessary evil in your country, but they are definitely not in your target
- Speak only in your target language, even with your con-nationals
- Read the local newspapers, listen to the local radio, watch the national TV.
- Try to find some books in your target language about some topic you love, and then read them slowly, writing down on flash cards the words you don't
- Get interested in the local culture.
- Try to make local friends and avoid the company of your co-nationals.
- Always try to make a perfect pronunciation.
- Never be satisfied with being understood, but strive to speak as well as a local.
- If there are several versions of a document (a guide) in different language, make a point to always take the version in your target language.
- Always carry a deck of blank
flash cards and write down all the words you don't understand. If you're a beginner, then limit yourself to the most useful words.
- Make a point of never going to bed before you have translated all the day's flash cards (some you won't be able on your own, leave them aside and ask your teacher). Then sleep a night on the new flash cards, and review them all one time the next day.
- Try to find out the most common expressions and fashionable words. That will give charm to your speaking.
In any case you should never ...
- Hang out only with people from you country and speak your mother tongue all day long. That't the number one cause of a failed (from the language point of view) trip. Most people will do everything with conationals, speaking their mother tongue all the time. You loose time and money doing
- Live in a camp with hundreds of foreigners and doing language lessons in the morning. Maybe you have to do this for some reasons, but you should realise that this is an inferior solution because it shuts you out of the country you visit, and steals most opportunities to practice the language you're learning.
At least you should ...
- Live in a family
- Avoid spending your days with people from your country
- Use flash cards as much as you can
- Be able to master perfectly the basics of small talk in 10-15 days
- Tell me if you used some of these advices on a trip, or if you have others to suggest !