The Effectiveness of Language Immersion

Language immersion is the best way to learn a language.

Many people who have travelled, studied, or lived in a foreign country experience rapid advancement in their foreign language abilities. Perhaps you’ve even experienced this firsthand! Countless studies have shown that language immersion is the best way to learn a new language, and there is science to back it up. While this might come as a disappointment to those without the time or resources to spend extended periods of time is foreign countries, now there is a way to completely immerse yourself in a language from the comfort of your own home.

How effective is immersion?

Dozens- if not hundreds- of studies on second language acquisition (SLA) have corroborated the astounding effectiveness of language immersion. Linguist Norman Segalowitz found in his study of Spanish study abroad programs that “students who spent a semester studying in Spain were found to have made greater gains in oral proficiency and in several aspects of oral fluency compared to those who studied at their home university in the United States.1” Linguist J.B. Caroll conducted a groundbreaking study with thousands of students and several languages and concluded that “Probably the most important variable associated with the attainment of high foreign language proficiency discovered in this study was the amount of time the student had spent abroad in a country where his major language was spoken.2” Finally, linguist Benjamin Rifkin studied students learning Russian as a foreign language, and he went so far as to say that “without an immersion experience, students of Russian will likely find it difficult, if not impossible, to break through this ceiling into advanced level proficiencies.3” The verdict is clear: immersion is the most effective language learning environment.

Why is language immersion so effective?

Renowned linguist Stephen Krashen hypothesized that living abroad increases the amount of “comprehensible input” learners receive. His idea was that we learn language when we hear it at a level we can understand, but that pushes the boundaries of our knowledge a little further. Just the sheer amount of language data we receive from being immersed in a language greatly increases the quantity of comprehensible input we receive. Here at Immerse, we think Krashen is onto something. But we also think there’s a little more to the story. When you are immersed in a language, the input you’re receiving isn’t just comprehensible, it’s compelling. Being immersed in a language is engaging and even fun. When people go abroad, they interact with rich cultures, meet interesting people, experience new cuisine, and understand the personal connections that a common language can make.

How can you immerse in a language?

It used to be the case that language immersion was only possible by putting your life on pause and running off to a foreign country. Unfortunately, not many people have the luxury of long vacations, plenty of travel money, and few responsibilities at home. Here at Immerse we understand the effectiveness of language immersion and the difficulty of achieving it, so we set out to make immersion possible from home! We achieved this by creating an engaging 3D environment equipped with authentic communicative based-tasks and interactive role play guided by a live instructor in VR. We provide you with headsets that bring you into an engaging, immersive world, where you can learn English in Los Angeles or London with the click of a button!

If you’d like to learn more about what immersion in VR is like, check out immerse.online!


  1. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ891446
  2. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED013343.pdf
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0026-7902.2005.00262.x

Posted on

February 15, 2019

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VR

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