Method Review: 3- Other Immersion Types

Immersion Methods

Since the last two methods really encompass a lot of other popular methods out there with similar concepts, I decided not to really restate them in detail. Rather, talk about programs that use immersion.

Defense Language Institute (DLI)

If you are one of the lucky ones joining the Military who pass the required DLAB test, you may qualify for a position that allows you to come to this nifty school. As Wiki provided it basically:

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution, which provides linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense, other Federal Agencies and numerous and varied other customers. The Defense Language Institute is responsible for the Defense Language Program, and the bulk of the Defense Language Institute’s activities involve educating DoD members in assigned languages. Other functions include planning, curriculum development, and research in second-language acquisition.

As of 2009[update], over 40 languages are taught at the DLIFLC including Afrikaans in Washington, DC and the following in Monterey: Arabic (Modern Standard), Dari, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurmanji, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sorani Kurdish, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Uzbek.

As of 2009[update], DLIFLC began teaching the Iraqi dialect.

Having been stationed there I can verify that it’s a pretty cool place. The school really focuses on the whole immersion environment. You not only spend 8+ hours in classes, but afterwards you have lots of studying to do before the next day. Because of this, a lot of the languages can be learned really fast. Imagine spending more than 8 hours a day studying a language with intense immersion. It’s hard not to learn a language doing this!

Is it for you? Maybe, maybe, but not for the average person (though you could sorta mimic this environment if you wanted)

PROS:

*immersion environment extreme!

*lots of handholding, as it is in class formation

*free (so to speak)

*lots of people learning with you, interaction with native teachers, ect.

*tests to show your progression, ect.

*Fast fast pace

CONS:

*you have to join military/gov in order to get into it (normally)

*no life, really 🙂

*military specific vocabulary over general vocab

*focus more on listening/reading comprehension versus speaking/writing (input >output)

Classes/Tutors

There are some schools out there who claim they can give you that immersion environment through their classes. This isn’t all schools that claim this, but a good handful of them (especially ones done by independent groups). Because they vary and depend on where you go, whose teaching you, and what system they use, I wont go into any particular details.

PROS:

*Teacher/tutor guidance (hand holding comfort)

*invested time that someone can call you out on (you’re accountable vs. self-study)

*often other students that you can practice with that share the same desire to learn the language (hopefully)

*course work laid out for you

CONS:

*most never reach true immersion environment (because you’re only there x hours a week)

*sometimes very costly

*often teaches from  course books with very proper outdated unused language

*often not customized to you, but rather generalities

*tend to focus on literal translations (never monolingual usually)

Classes may be for you if you have a very very hard time self studying. This might just be what you need to supplement your own studies, to give you motivation with accountability. Often people find learning a language is like doing a diet, getting together with others (weight watchers for example) makes things very easy. That support group sometimes gives you the confidence to pursue your language. I do not normally knock classes in general because you cannot deny the comfort factor, but I feel that they could be vastly improved in terms of what and how they teach languages.

Some tutors out there however do not use those kinds of books and class like structure. They’d be a sort of exception. The real thing is you just gotta do your research with the classes. Ask what books they use, what methods they believe in, if there will be a turn to monolingual at some point, ect. Great thing about classes is most have a syllabus that you can look at before you jump into the boat.


Rosetta Stone
In case you live under a rock and have never heard of the much overpriced Rosetta Stone, here is an in-depth summary of it straight from their site about their program:

Learn naturally:

A completely immersive environment.

As a child, you learned to speak instinctively by experiencing the world around you. Our solution recreates this experience through a fully immersive environment right on your computer.

No translation or memorization.

We’ve eliminated the traditional approach of using translation and grammar rules, empowering you to think in your new language. There are no flash cards, dictionaries or memorization drills.

A carefully designed sequence of activities.

By surrounding you with words, images and the voices of native speakers, our method lets you progress naturally from words and phrases to sentences and conversations.

Engage Interactively:

Start fast and stay motivated.

Unlike tapes, videos or books that passively feed you language, you’ll constantly interact with our program. Instead of repeating the same action over and over, you’ll:

* Hear, write and pronounce words and match them to images
* Speak aloud to finish sentences or phrases
* Refine your pronunciation by emulating native speakers

Retain what you’ve learned.

Our exclusive Adaptive Recall™ feature brings back review exercises to help you transfer what you’ve learned into your long-term memory.

Speak Confidently:

Build your conversational skills.

Step-by-step, you will gain the confidence to speak on your own. You’ll develop your intuitive ability to create sentences from scratch in a conversational setting. Before long, you’ll be in the middle of conversations and you’ll be doing the talking!

Pronounce words correctly.

Our proprietary speech-recognition technology helps you pronounce syllables, words and sentences in your new language, and provides immediate, ongoing feedback.

Have Fun:

“Ah-ha” moments

Our approach taps into your innate puzzle-solving instinct. As you learn with us—and solve one language-learning puzzle after another—you’ll experience a series of “ah-ha” moments that keep you motivated.

Serious fun

Our program is so addictive, you’ll want to keep learning more. With every step, you’ll move forward and feel a sense of accomplishment.

So yeah, there is a lot they have to say about themselves and their approach right on their site before you dish out the astounding minimum of $299 for each lvl apiece or $539 for all 3 lvls. Don’t forget they now have the special Totale for almost $1k. Seems like a bit much to me. Their marketing team does really well selling their product, as you can see from their super nice website and quality commercials/advertisements.

PROS:

*immersion environment

*course laid out for you, no extra work

*pictures, audio, games, the works

*touches all needs for your language

CONS:

*expensive as hell

*romaji is in it, which people tend to use over kana/kanji

*some sentences are ambiguous to their pictures and hard to figure out exactly what their meaning sometimes

*some claim the system is outdated and doesn’t work for a lot of languages where it excels for others

Of all the reviews I read, sometimes I do wonder how many of the reviews are real. A lot of them sound really fabricated and unrealistically happy. Though I have met a few people who’ve done Rosetta, I have not met many who are fluent that used the program primarily. Most have used this system as a springboard or for fun on the side. Though I personally wouldn’t dish $600-1k out for learning languages, some of you richies out there might.

Live Mocha

If you’re looking in the market for a much less (how about free?) Rosetta ripoff, try Live Mocha instead! Live Mocha toots the following themselves.

Livemocha is the world’s largest online community for language learners, with free lessons and a global community to help you learn a new language.

Boost your grammar and vocabulary with fun, engaging lessons. These lessons develop reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. Members of the Livemocha community keep the lessons fresh by collaborating on translations and leaving tips to help others.

The best way to learn a language is through total immersion. Livemocha emulates this experience by allowing members to interact in our global online community. We believe…to become truly proficient and conversational you need to work with actual native speakers.

…you can build your skills and confidence by submitting writing or speaking exercises to the community for review…

Connect with native speakers from all over the world and help them to learn your native language….

Livemocha wants to support you along every step to learning a new language, and we give you the tools to help you quickly and confidently achieve your goals.

Phrase Translator: Get a kick-start with the Phrase Translator to help you understand forgotten or unknown phrases.

Conversation Scenarios: Not ready for a conversation with a native speaker? Practice a scripted conversation using common scenarios you encounter when meeting people or travelling.

Virtual Keyboard: We’ve made it easy to insert special characters and accents when typing.

PROS:

*Free

*community to speak to natives

*easy to navigate and participate

*immersion likeness

*focus on all key points to language learning

*earn mocha points for various things by completing exercises and helping others

CONS:

*because its free, there are problems (spelling ect.)

*short comings are similar to Rosetta

*have to have internet to do it, no offline working

If you find that you’re interested in something like Rosetta Stone, I’d say try Live Mocha first, since it’s a free version and similar. Though it has a great community base that to me makes it more valuable, it does have errors in it from time to time. (I noticed a few in the English programs myself)

Instant Immersion Language Lab, and other immersion software programs:

There are many many more language immersion software programs out there, and a simple google search will bring out countless of them. I personally don’t like them. They come out looking pretty snazzy on their boxes, talking about how easy it will all be, and how great their program is for you, and all that goodness, but I haven’t tried a single one of those types and liked it. The IILL for instance to me was unbearably outdated and hooky. It taught horribly, and even wrong things in it from time to time. I honestly think all this type of thing is a gimmick that you should run far away from. Don’t buy into this junk. At least with Rosetta/Live Mocha, there are people who claim success. The rest have very few tooting their horn about its goodness.

Be wary and do a lot of research on it before you spend money on it. I at least had the luxury of finding friends with some of this stuff in the beginning for me to realize how horrible they were before I wasted any money on it.


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Comments
2 Responses to “Method Review: 3- Other Immersion Types”
  1. Paul says:

    Hey, I’m a D.L.I. alumnus, too! 2004 Arabic (MSA). I found this post searching for “Japanese at D.L.I.” on google. Did you go there for Japanese?

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