Sunday, October 02, 2005

The importance of immersion / study abroad programs

A Ceiling Effect in Traditional Classroom Foreign Language Instruction: Data from Russian

Benjamin Rifkin
The Modern Language Journal
Vol. 89 Issue 1 Page 3 March 2005


This is an interesting article that provides data about the necessity of immersion and/or study abroad programs. Russian is a less commonly taught language (LCTL) like Arabic. Students who really want to learn Arabic must go to an immersion/study abroad program - preferably after having had a few (two) years of instruction in their country. The learning curve will be faster if you go to an immersion/study abroad program with significant preparation. Students who do not go on such a program may reach the ceiling of their proficiency. The reverse is also true - students who simply show up to the country may never reach a high level of proficiency if they do not have explicit instruction. This instruction could be received in the foreign country, but the methodologies and teaching may not be worth leaving your home country as a beginner.

Benjamin Rifkin is a quality instructor and researcher.

enjoy, Jeremy

2 Comments:

At 07:37, Blogger John Colangelo said...

What about a school which teaches 5 to 6 hours a day in a non Arab country? Could this provide enough inmersion?

 
At 15:09, Blogger Phil said...

Hi John,

I'm still a (hopefully advanced) beginner in Arabic, but I found with Spanish that no amount of university instruction was sufficient to get me fluent. Within 5 months of living in an apartment with Spaniards, however, I was speaking pretty fluently.

I think the difference is that immersion forces you to turn your academic vocabulary into vocabulary that you can use in everyday speech. With immersion, you also get a much better feel for different styles of speech and idioms. People who aren't teachers tend also to be less able to understand strong accents and weirdly-phrased sentences, which forces you to speak as a native would to be understood...

حظ سعيد
Phil

 

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