Intensive Language and Cultural Immersion: A Cooperative Method



ABSTRACT  A foreign language is learned most efficiently through an intensive experience with that language. Intensive language learning does not mean constant exposure to the language, but rather an emotional and critical involvement during the period of exposure. With the aid of well-prepared student instructors, the faculty coordinator schedules three hours per day of classes for each student in varied group arrangements. All learning is carried on together during these three hours. Student instructors help create an atmosphere where anything is permissible—as long as learning takes place. In order to maximize student involvement, the principal teaching method emphasizes interaction of students, including the use of situations and role playing. Interaction can be a useful tool if students are geared from the beginning to help each other learn. By acquiring a self-critical and critical attitude toward language learning, where each student is responsible for both his and others' progress, a student becomes totally involved. Once students are involved in the cooperative learning process, situations and role playing can be introduced to engage the student emotionally. This kind of confrontation provides the opportunity to illustrate the similarities and differences between the two cultures, making the student especially aware of his own value system that he takes to the foreign country.