Immersion theory- Your GTG’s guide to improving your language skills


Greetings from a suddenly soggy Colombia globetrotters. I hope you are all well. This week I thought It was worth sharing a technique that has worked absolute wonders for me over the last couple of days (and many times previously) in my efforts to improve my Spanish. Having been situated in a dorm full of my fellow country people, I made the conscious decision to isolate myself from the English speakers in the hostel and socilise primarily with the Spanish-speaking travellers instead. It may sound simple but language is a matter of protocol, the basic idea here is that once you become a clear linguistic minority, you will both surprise and impress yourself with how far what you do know already can take you. In fact, as I write this, I happen to be eavesdropping on the Spanish speakers to my left, a habit which loses most of its creepiness when language is involved.

I am certanly not the first to realise the potential of this idea. Around the Spanish speaking world, in particular in central and South America, there are variations of language programs offered where classes are taken during the day and the accommodation is with a local family, where people travelling in couples are often separated for the chance to improve.

Time has of course gone on since I began writing this and to give a new and more recent example (by a day), last night was spent on a rural property with a lovely couple of middle-aged Colombian sisters drinking coffee, watching Idol Colombia (Yo me llamo), and soap opera after soap opera with a bunch of blankets and cussions.

It is a natural feeling to feel out of your depth in these situations but many of us learn dramatically more in a sink or swim situation. If you need further reassurance that you can do it, then look at the smiles of the people you´re chatting with and imagine if they were speaking English what they might be saying, usually you won´t be far off. On that note, I´m off to mingle, untill next time.