The importance of immersion / study abroad programs
A Ceiling Effect in Traditional Classroom Foreign Language Instruction: Data from Russian
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.