IGCSE French/Spanish: 7: How to dream in a foreign language; tips to increase your immersion.

IGCSE French/Spanish: 7:  How to dream in a foreign language; tips to increase your immersion.

It is a common belief amongst linguists that once you actually have a dream in a foreign language you have achieved fluency, and as such is an ambition of many language students. What constitutes fluency is a continual matter for debate as different people have different ideas of what it means to be fluent in a language. What is undeniable however is that having a dream in a foreign language means that that language is somehow engrained in your mind on a subconscious level, or that you are capable of thinking in that language without really making a conscious decision to do so. You have successfully immersed yourself and your brain in the language and it is now a part of you. Sound impossible? – here are some tips on how to go some way to achieving it:

  • Listen to as much of the language as is humanly possible (see previous blog “How to tune your ear) including just before you go to sleep. It is often thought that this helps things to enter the long-term memory and/or sub-conscious.
  • Read as much of the language as is humanly possible (see previous blog “Read all about it”) and especially try to read as much authentic material from the country to pick up those idiomatic expressions that native speakers would use. Some students find it beneficial to make contact with native speakers in internet chat-rooms so that they can communicate via instant messenger and read the language that way. Warning!: Whilst this is a great way to increase your immersion in a language you need to be very aware that the language people use in chat-rooms will often be slang, will probably not be grammatically correct and will make use of alternative spellings as in text language. This type of language should definitely NOT be used in an exam!
  • Speak as much language as you can. Use your tutor to practice conversation over the phone or via Skype or enlist the help of a native speaker with whom you can practice your spoken language in person. Try to find a native speaker of your language who is interested in improving their English. This is a cheap way to get tuition as you can meet them for an hour once a week, spend half an hour chatting in English and half an hour chatting in the other language – it is mutually beneficial and also very sociable.
  • Write in the language as much as you can. This could be through internet chat-rooms, a contact abroad whom you email, or simply by keeping a daily journal in the language. This is incredibly good practice as it encourages you to think in the language and also write down feelings that you would not necessarily include in an exam task.
  • Think or talk to yourself in the language as much as you can. As well as keeping the journal, when you are alone, driving, walking your dog etc. try to translate your natural thoughts into the language. A challenging but stimulating and rewarding exercise which will do no end of good for your fluency and ability to ‘think on your feet’ in the language.
  • Lastly – go visit the country! There genuinely is no better way to immerse yourself in a language than by being in amongst its culture, and it’s also a great excuse for a holiday!

Good Luck!

Chloe Bullock


To find out more about studying French or Spanish visit the Oxford Open Learning website, or contact a Student Adviser for more details.

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