Heidi Wagoner an American expat living in Spain, tells us why she feels a Spanish immersion program benefits you, even when you are living in Spain.
I’ve lived in Spain for just about 5 years now and I promised myself I would become fluent in Spanish. Without having any formal Spanish language education, prior to living in Spain, it was a steep learning curve. It is easy to absorb some vocabulary here and there in your daily life and feel quite confident, until you are at a social event or some gathering and realize you don’t know as much as you thought you did. I needed that extra push, something to expose me to new things and situations. Spanish immersion seemed to be just what I needed to be on that path and below are the benefits.
Spanish Immersion Program Benefits
Building your confidence
When in a Spanish immersion course, you are prompted to discuss many topics and be in a variety of situations. All of these can take you out of that day-to-day routine and stretch your Spanish language boundaries. The thought of it all prior to the experience can be a bit daunting, but once you are in the situation it feels more natural. When you realize you just spoke in Spanish for the entire day, it hits you. You know you can do this, you know you can do it again. With immersion, you can just learn to think in Spanish and really build your confidence.
Fun while you learn
This probably goes without saying, but you will certainly have fun while you learn. From playing fun games, performing skits, watching presentations, making telephone calls, participating in activities, and having meals together, is all great fun and entertaining. It’s nearly impossible to experience a week-long immersion program without a few laughs.
Experiencing the culture
Even when you live in a foreign country, there are aspects of the culture you aren’t exposed to. We often stay within our comfort zone and that may mean we miss out on a little bit of the culture. In an immersion program, education about the culture is built into the experience. No matter if you are on a field trip to a museum, or tasting Jamón and drinking wine form a bota, you are experiencing the culture. Just walking around the La Alberca, the immersion location, permits you to experience new things. These are the things which associate your learning with an experience. That’s what makes what you learned last! It isn’t just memorizing grammar and vocabulary, you are living an experience. This can all help you tap into what you learned with your mind as well as your emotions.
Making new Friends
This is likely a favorite Spanish immersion program benefit, making new friends! Even when you are shy, timid or lacking confidence, you will have people there supporting you and helping you navigate the world outside of your comfort zone. A natural bonding happens as the other students are in the same situation as you and the Spanish volunteers are so helpful, passionate and understanding. By the time the week is over, you really do have shared a unique experience with the others and made friendship you can always tap into.
Getting you to speak!
So many people study a foreign language in a classroom setting and take turns reading or speaking a few times a week in the class. You leave each session feeling good, but reality hits when you are out and need to think on your feet to speak. In the real world, you no longer have the time to fumble around your words in the class, but your confidence isn’t great. Out for a walk, you bump into a Spanish friend, but you just wave, say “Hola!” and continue to pass by.
When you are spending a week in a Spanish immersion program, there is no way to avoid the situation and pass by. You are with people 14 hours a day and you need to speak. The first day can be overwhelming, but you soon realize you can speak! Every situation in the program is designed to expose you to different aspects of life, fun and education. In each of those situations you are speaking, using new vocabulary and that is the most important part of communication, actually taking the time to speak!
The benefits keep going
When your immersion program is over, part of you is relieved and another part is pretty impressed. Without a doubt, you know you have improved and your immersion participants let you know as well. The best part for me was returning to my town in Spain and having my Spanish friends notice my improvement. This really builds confidence and you know it was all worth it. The Spanish immersion program benefits continue to present themselves, even after the program is over.
Heidi is passionate about travel (50+ countries) and she and her husband are both authors of the popular travel blog Wagoners Abroad. In Aug 2012, they left the “perfect American life”, quit their jobs, sold their belongings, and moved to Southern Spain, with their 2 kids (Lars and Anya). They also spent a year as nomads exploring Southeast Asia.
Spain is their home base and they continue to embrace the world and different cultures. They have inspired hundreds of people to visit Spain and helped many actually move to Spain as well. They offer consulting and ebooks on the process to move to Spain! The Wagoners are a true source of inspiration and proof you can make your dreams come true. Follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and many of the other social media channels.
If you’re ready to jump in with both feet and give 100% effort towards speaking more Spanish – Pueblo Espanol is for you!
Pueblo Español is all about full Spanish immersion! With expert staff, Diverbo facilitates over 100 hours of conversation in and 8-day period. The schedule is carefully designed so that students are constantly being challenged to use Spanish in a variety of contexts: one to ones, group activities, meals, mingling with Spaniards your age!Ask for MORE INFO
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