Immersing yourself in English is a great way to soak it up. And, this is not only my opinion, it’s a fact. Research shows that immersing yourself in a language allows your brain to soak it up without actually realising it. An extreme example of this at work is the case of Matej Kus, a Czech speedway driver. Matej had been living and working in the UK and understood enough English to get by. But, according to his promoter, his English was ‘broken, to put it mildy’, implying that he was not all that good.
Now comes the amazing part – following a terrible crash Matej woke up able to speak English perfectly! It seems that the trauma allowed Matej to access all the English he’d been hearing, seeing and absorbing in his everyday life. Remember, Matej had not been actively learning English, he’d just soaked it up whilst going about his daily business. Now, we are not suggesting that you take such drastic action, but this does show that the brain learns huge amounts of information subconsciously.
So how can I Practise Immersion?
The best way to immerse yourself is to live in the country of the language you’d like to speak. But, we know that is not possible for most of you, so the next best thing is to simply surround yourself with English. If you have other things to do, cooking or cleaning for example, have English radio or TV on in the background. Your attention will be on the task in hand, but a small amount of your brain will be absorbing your surroundings, including any English you are listening to. You can find plenty of English radio stations, TV series and films online. Have a look here for some suggestions:
Reading only English is another good way to learn, even if you don’t know what all the words mean. Half the fun is trying to work out what they mean from the context of the writing and you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn working this way. Have a look here for some suggested reading material:
You could even try thinking only in English. It’ll take a while to get used to, but it’s a great way to practise as thoughts are constantly running through our minds.
Use the Natives
If you are living in a country where you can access native speakers of English, use them –after all they provide free practise. For example:
• ask for directions
• go into shops and ask sales assistants to help you, even if you don’t want to buy anything
• buy tickets for trains and buses
• visit local museums or places of interest and ask staff to give you a brief history of the building
You’ll get a free lesson in how people speak in everyday life. Plus, you’ll more than likely hear a few regional accents too.
And, finally, do not be afraid of making mistakes. People really do appreciate that you are making the effort to speak to them in English, so go for it!