Immersive Language Education
At IQBar we are proud of our immersive approach to language learning. We are proud for very good reasons. The educational success of second language immersion education is well established. Immersion programmes have been around for decades, first being established in Canada where English-speaking children were taught French, by French-speaking teachers from a young age. The teachers never spoke to them in English and created a totally French-speaking environment. The children flourished and their levels of French were way beyond that of other English-speaking children their age. From here, the immersive method spread around the world including to us here at IQBar.
Essentially what the immersive method means is exposing learners of English to English as much as possible, both inside and outside the classroom. At IQBar, all our Buddies only use English in the classroom, and Breadies are encouraged through their homework to continue this exposure at home too.
It is important to consider how immersion works and how it is different from submersion.
Immersion v Submersion
A menos que hable español con fluidez, es poco probable que comprenda mucho de este pasaje. Si tuviera que explicarte en español cuál es el método inmersivo que usa el lenguaje técnico como pedagogía, entonces probablemente estarías confundido. Puede llegar a algunas conclusiones basadas en cognados, pero no sería efectivo. La inmersión no implica ser arrojado al fondo y dejarse hundir o nadar.
The above would be an example of submersion, being thrown in at the deep end with no help. It reads….’ Unless you are fluent in Spanish, you are unlikely to understand much of this passage. If I had to explain to you in Spanish what was the immersive method that used technical language as pedagogy, then you would probably be confused. You might reach some conclusions based on cognates, but it would not be effective. Immersion doesn’t involve being thrown to the bottom and allowing yourself to sink or swim.’
That is how our Breadies may feel if they are suddenly thrown into English at a level that is beyond them. They would probably not engage, lose confidence, and may even cancel lessons. Our aim is instead to immerse them in English but at a level that builds their confidence, allows them to flourish, and gives them the excitement to come back and learn more.
Immersion should be empathetic, not terrifying to Breadies!
Effective Immersion Techniques
We promote effective immersion by encouraging Buddies to:
- Only use English. Even if Buddies can speak the first language of the Bready, they only ever use English in the classroom. Translation using the classroom text function should be kept to an absolute minimum. This exposure to only English allows Breadies to build their language skills in English quickly and effectively.
- Grade their language. Grading language is really about being consciously aware of your language choices in the classroom. The language you use matters, it needs to be age-appropriate, level-appropriate, and culturally sensitive. It needs to be at a level where Breadies do not feel overwhelmed.
- Model language. In the classroom, you are the source of English being used correctly. Speak slowly and articulate clearly so that your Breadies can follow and copy your pronunciation.
- Use visual clues and TPR (Total Physical Response). We know TPR helps people to learn new languages. It is a vital part of the immersive method. Other visuals should be used too: exaggerated body language can help portray emotions and feelings; props can help clarify meaning; signs and posters give Breadies even more exposure to English.
- Use songs and games. Songs and games at appropriate parts of the lesson are a great way of immersing Breadies in English in a fun and engaging way. If a Bready is engaged, then they are more likely to learn and remember that language.
What else do we do?
As well as total immersion within our range of English lessons, we also include other activities to complete the immersive experience. There is our range of cooking, science, and craft videos that Breadies have access to, the new online library, and subject-based lessons conducted in English. If we encourage our Breadies to access these then their English should progress at a faster rate.
What do you think?
Do you have other ideas on how to promote immersion in our classrooms? We would love to hear your thoughts.