Immersion Therapy

“Are you sure there isn’t a statue of a bull around?” I asked the man in English at the tourist information booth in Barcelona’s Plaza de España. He shook his head and shrugged. I looked at the sms again, where it said I was supposed to meet a friend of a friend. I was already late because I had got lost. ‘Podemos cumplir por las torres’ it said. And then I realized. Torres! Not toros! Towers, not bulls! How could I make such a beginner’s mistake?

I was in Barcelona for one month, studying Spanish. It was a treat for me; I love the language, but since living in the Czech Republic, my Spanish skills have got worse because I’m trying to learn Czech. However, I tried to keep up by occasionally taking lessons. But the Barcelona trip should have helped me improve – or that was the idea anyway.

Today’s Phrasal Verb:
The author said she ‘tried to keep up by occasionally taking lessons’. Keep up means to maintain at the same level.

But does traveling to learn a language actually work? I went through a study abroad program and chose to stay with a host family. I thought I’d get extra language practice by speaking with the family because I don’t normally speak with too many other people. I was either in classes or sightseeing around Barcelona. Our evenings were all the same: We prepared dinner together, ate and watched an enjoyable game show then afterwards we cleaned up. We talked about this and that; but nothing too serious. It was probably better than no practice.

Also, I’m unsure if Barcelona was the best choice because most people usually speak Catalan. On one of my first days I went to the grocery store with my host mother. We were standing in the vegetable section and I was trying to practice my vegetable vocabulary. Pepino is the Spanish word for cucumber but the sign said Cogombre. Luckily, my host mother noticed me concentrating. She told me the sign was in Catalan; like most signs in the city.

The best part of the experience though was the school – the teachers were fantastic. They made sure our school remained a ‘Spanish only zone’. I had two or three classes a day and went on excursions around or outside the city. But I didn’t get to know my fellow students or speak to many strangers. This is personally fine with me, though not the reason I went. But I felt I got to know the place quite well.

But is immersion the best way to learn a language? It is motivating but I think motivation in general is the most important. If you have the drive to take on a foreign language (or anything you want to learn) you will do it no matter the circumstances.

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Immersion Therapy Quiz: Medium

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I went to Barcelona for one month to study Spanish. I love the language but only as a hobby. I only continue studying it because I enjoy it. Since I moved to Europe, my Spanish skills have got worse because since I came to Prague, I have focused on my Czech.

I tried to take lessons here and there. I even found a Czech friend who enjoyed the language as much as I did, but it didn’t help me much. So, the idea of the Barcelona trip was to help me to improve my Spanish skills again.

Get better and get worse:
Get is used with the comparative to show change. My English is getting better.

But does traveling to learn a language really work? I went through a study abroad program and chose to stay with a host family. I thought I would get extra bonus language practice. If I stayed with people, I’d have to speak with them. In Barcelona, I was either in a class or exploring the city, and the host mother worked.

Our evenings were all the same: we prepared dinner together, ate and watched a game show which I actually started to like. Then we cleaned up. We talked about different things but we didn’t have serious discussions. Still, it was better than nothing.

Also, I’m not sure that Barcelona was the best choice. Most people there prefer Catalan.

Word of the Day:
Actually – it is used to correct the previous information.

The best part of the experience was the school – the teachers were fantastic. I had two or three classes a day, and they also organized short excursions around and outside the city.

Our school building was a “Spanish only zone” and teachers were very strict with it. They reminded us to use Spanish as soon as they had heard a different language (usually English). My classmates were mainly French and Brazilian. One of the Brazilian students actually told me that his English gets better when he comes to Spain because English is the language everybody speaks. When he was studying English in London, he spoke a lot of Spanish instead.

So does it help to go to a country to study a language? It’s certainly motivating – I’d know no Czech if I didn’t live here – but I think motivation in general is the most important. If you have the drive to take up a foreign language, you’ll do it no matter what.

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona.. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Immersion Therapy Quiz: Mild

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“Are you sure there isn’t a statue of a bull around?” I pleadingly asked the man in English at the pop-up tourist information booth in Barcelona’s Plaza de España. He shook his head and shrugged, and did seem quite apologetic, if not a little confused why I should desperately want to see a statue of a bull. I looked at the sms one more time, where it said I was supposed to meet a friend of a friend. I was already late, having gotten turned around walking there. ‘Podemos cumplir por las torres’ it said. And then it dawned on me – I’m an idiot. Torres! Not toros! Towers, not bulls! How could I make such a beginner’s mistake?

Today’s Phrasal Verb:
The author said she ‘got turned around’ while trying to find the Plaza de España. This means she got lost; was confused by the directions and went the wrong way.

I was in Barcelona for one month, studying Spanish. It was a treat for me; I love the language, but only as a hobby – there’s no real reason for me to continue studying it except that I enjoy it. Since living in Europe, my Spanish skills have greatly decreased – my language learning was more focused now on Czech. However I tried to keep up, taking lessons here and there, and even finding a Czech friend who enjoyed the language as much as I did. But the Barcelona trip should have helped me regain some of the skills I had lost – or that was the idea anyway.

But does traveling to learn a language actually work? I went through a study abroad program and chose to stay with a host family. I thought I’d get extra bonus language practice; living with people, you had to speak with them. As I’m not a socially outgoing person, I needed to be forced a bit. I was either in classes or out exploring Barcelona all day, and the host mother worked. Our evenings were all the same: We prepared dinner together, ate and watched a game show I grew to enjoy then afterwards cleaned up. We chatted about this and that; but nothing too intense. Still, it was probably better than nothing.

Also, I’m unsure if Barcelona was the best choice – most people more commonly speak Catalan. One of the first days I was there I went to the grocery store with my host mother. We were standing in the vegetable section and I was trying to practice my vegetable vocabulary. I was standing in front of a display of cucumbers. Pepino is the word for cucumber, I think to myself; checking the sign on the shelf for confirmation. Cogombre, it said. What? I thought – I’ve never even seen this word – how could my Spanish skills have gotten so bad? Wait, maybe this isn’t a cucumber; but a vegetable I’d never seen before. Luckily, my odd concentration on the cucumbers caught the attention of my host mother who must have guessed why I had such a perplexed look on my face. She told me the sign was in Catalan; like the majority of the signage in the city.

The best part of the experience though was the school – the teachers were fantastic. I had two or three classes a day, and they also arranged little excursions around or outside the city. I participated in a couple of the more cultural ones. Being a ‘mature’ student, I didn’t have a lot in common with my classmates. Also, not being one who can strike up a conversation with someone on the street, I spent a lot of my Barcelona time silent. This is personally fine with me, though not the reason I went. I wandered the city, took some day trips on the weekends, and felt I got to know the place quite well.

Our school building was a ‘Spanish only zone’ and teachers and staff were meticulous about reminding us of this fact if they heard a language (usually English) other than Spanish. My fellow students were mainly French and Brazilian. One of the Brazilian students I spoke with actually said his English gets better when he comes to Spain, as that is the dominant language everyone speaks. When he was studying English in London, he spoke a lot of Spanish instead with the other students.

But is immersion the best way to learn a language? It certainly is a motivating factor – I would know zero Czech if I didn’t live here – but I think motivation in general is the most important. If you have the drive to take on a foreign language (or anything you want to learn) you will do it no matter the circumstances. Has my Spanish stayed at the level it was when I returned from Barcelona? Sadly, probably not. I am not such an eager or disciplined pupil.

Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona

Immersion Therapy Quiz: Spicy

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