One of the biggest myths about learning a language through immersion is that it requires other people. This stems partly from the fact that all those very expensive, very fun-looking immersion courses in Barcelona seem eager to showcase the city and its parties almost as much as the actual language classes.
So what happens if you’d rather travel later in the year, once the current pestilence that scourges the land is truly gone? Or if you have final exams coming next week? Or simply don’t want to deal with people right now?
Well, if you truly believe the language school brochures, then the answer may be to put off your language learning goals for a few months. But why wait? You can also create a small Spanish language learning immersion bubble while at home!
#1 – Put that label maker to work
If the rest of the household won’t complain, you can always turn your home into a living foreign language dictionary. Simply dust off that old label maker and start adding the correct Spanish name to every object you see.
You can do this systematically, addressing objects room by room. Alternatively, you can simply make a point of adding the label to everything you touch, as you touch it. The latter method has an extra perk: it will make you prioritize the objects and words that you use the most often, and are therefore more important.
Then, after you grab or use anything, say its name out loud (or even try to make up a sentence with it), and ignore the odd looks from your neighbors.
#2 – Make your pets bilingual
One of the most common things we hear our members say is that, even if they are having a lot of fun learning Spanish with TV and movies, they often feel too intimidated to use it with other people. Other people can be judgy, spot embarrassing mistakes, or simply not know the language we are trying to learn.
However, if you have a pet, then you already have the captive audience of someone who can learn alongside you. So now is the time to make your pet bilingual. Just talk soothingly to Fido whenever you come home and tell him about your day. Teach your dog some basic commands in Spanish and practice some verb conjugations while you’re at it.
If you have a cat, get used to telling them “¡No hagas eso!” instead of “Don’t do that!” and watch them disobey you in a completely new way.
#3 – Switch the menu language across all your devices
So far, we have shown you a few methods that give you an excuse to practice when you have the time. So what about creating the kind of situation where you will be forced to practice?
The key to do this lies just at your fingertips – and you may already be holding it, actually. Just head to the Settings menu on your phone, tablet, or computer, and switch the Operating System’s default language into Spanish.
Then, be prepared to learn about a lot of commonly used words that don’t appear on regular Spanish lessons often – such as “e-mail”, “reply”, “save” and “activate incognito mode”.
For best results and deeper immersion, do this on several devices at once. Just make sure to leave one in English, just in case you need to google how to change them back.
#4 – Try a new foreign recipe
Now, have about we try a quick real-life example of reading comprehension? If you are fond of cooking, try making something from the country that you dream of visiting – in its native language! So if your final motivation to learn Spanish is to backpack across Peru, now is the time to find an authentic peruvian cebiche recipe and trying it out.
If you are lucky, you will get an outstanding meal out of it: using a recipe in Spanish will increase your chances of finding the authentic instructions, and not the watered down version that they put in English for the tourists. If you’re unlucky, you will learn what to order.
#5 – Binge-watch a new TV series
All the ideas we presented before can provide you with a fascinating challenge, but they’re all projects that involve doing something. While we stand behind them all, there’s a good chance that you will only be have the time and energy to cook something new or to play with your label maker during the weekend.
So what can you do on those days when you just want to get home and turn off your brain for an hour or two? Instead of rewatching the same old American sitcom, binge-watch a new series in Spanish. We now have the research that shows that you can learn a language by watching TV or movies, following along with the subtitles.
Learning Languages with TV and Movies: Getting Started
Pick a country, a genre, or a mood and start watching Spanish TV. Right now, we are offering a 7-day free trial – just long enough to check out our catalogue and see if you will find your next big fandom. Give it a try!