Language immersion in France: dive into French culture!

French as a Foreign Language | learning French
Aug 12, 2022
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Immersion is a very colourful and explicit concept to describe the meaning of this method intended for learning a language. Everything must come together to immerse body and soul in a cultural and social world where one speaks a language other than one’s own. 

And to learn French?

You can have all the will in the world to learn a language by relying on the many educational supports that exist today, material or digital: linguistic methods, films, novels, videos, applications and podcasts…

But to learn French, the best option is still to leave and jump into the deep end of the land of the Gauls…

What do we mean by language immersion?

Here is the definition of linguistic immersion formulated by Le Dictionnaire de didactique du français (2003): “Learning a language in immersion meant an intensive course during which all the activities of the school and of life took place in the target language. 

To learn a language properly, you have to make plans as in a sports training: it is with regular and intense practice that you achieve rapid results and real progress. Language immersion is an intensive and uninterrupted mode of learning, which results in a mechanical and immediate practice of the language.

The linguistic immersion stay in France is championed by all teachers of French as a Foreign Language (FLE) throughout the world in particular as well as it is by the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), and highly appreciated for its educational virtues. 

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Language immersion: a living method for a living language!

Recreate the natural learning conditions as for a mother tongue

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Forget the classic French lessons in class and imagine a new method for learning the language of Molière… An active method for learning a living language like French! Travel time is made to live in contact with the natives and to communicate in any situation, in the daily life of each one. 

The goal of a language immersion stay is therefore to recreate the most natural and authentic conditions for the assimilation of a language, comparable to those of a child who learns his mother tongue.

There are many concrete communication situations, without a net, without a dictionary or an interpreter, to get out of your comfort zone and mobilize all your resources in order to be able to express yourself and interact with natives and other learners.

Living to the rhythm of an evolving language

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French, like any living language, evolves in its grammar, its vocabulary, and this is particularly explicit in spoken language. We note in particular the feminization of many professional terms for example, or the use of words or formulas to replace the ever-increasing number of Anglicisms… 

So what better way to “incorporate” a foreign language and fully immerse in the vocabulary, intonations, pronunciation, musicality of the language, idiomatic expressions, everyday formulas…

Linguistic immersion is the most effective and concrete of didactic approaches. 

Several methods of linguistic immersion in France

A linguistic immersion stay organized in France can take several forms, more or less studious … For example, leaving with Vacances Actives Linguistiques means making the choice: 

  • either of a group school trip with FLE lessons and cultural activities; 
  • or a “homestay” stay hosted by a French family. 

Language immersion stay in school mode

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The so-called “studious” formula is a balance between morning French lessons (see our article “learning French on vacation”) and cultural activities in the afternoon, where learners benefit from visits, activities and moments of freedom in the city and the host region. It’s a great way to combine learning and discovering a culture and heritage. Students are confronted with French “as it is spoken” in everyday life. French is not only a language that is learned in the soft cocoon of the classroom, but also that is really used in other countries! This idea alone can be a trigger for learners!

Language immersion stay with a host family

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Living with a host family is the most effective kind of  language stay for making rapid progress and discovering the daily life of a French person. Eating habits, the rhythm of a day, customs, family and friendships: each stage of a day is shared, with the spontaneous and authentic words and expressions of native French speakers. 

What is the typical day during a language immersion stay organized by Vacances Actives?

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The learning travellers live at the rhythm of the host family in the morning and in the evening and are often accommodated in pairs. Breakfasts and dinners are shared with the family. In the morning, either they join the French course or they meet their classmates for the day’s visits and activities : discovery of historic districts, treasure hunts, museum visits, discovery of French monuments, gastronomic tastings, craft workshops or even immersion in a company.

 In this context, they are then confronted with everyday actions: getting ready, moving, making a purchase, ordering a meal, helping a leader, listening to the speech of a guide… Everything is done to live inside the country and speak French like a native, in concrete and improvised situations.

The benefits of linguistic immersion

The benefits are multiple and go beyond the simple fact of assimilating the national idiom quickly and efficiently. It has been shown that learning a language in total immersion allows the learner to:

  • broaden his vision of the world and give himself the tools to better interact in a diverse environment, to socialize, 
  • communicate more freely, to acquire oral fluency and increased sociability
  • learn from the experiences of the natives encountered while travelling. 
  • acquire greater autonomy, to gain maturity and self-confidence.
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And this is valid for all the languages ​​learnt. The student can study the different idiomatic structures, compare and make connections between the languages ​​and cultures he already knows. This makes it easier for them to learn new idioms later on. Language immersion is a real bonus for the learner; it develops his listening skills, his intellectual flexibility, his sensitivity to foreign languages ​​and his open-mindedness.

Undoubtedly, language immersion is no exception; travel broadens the mind and gives students a real cultural enrichment. 

Share your stories with us! Or go on a language study trip to France now, our team will be there to help you get into the deep end…

 

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