How to immerse yourself in English at home
Why you don’t need to move to London or New York to get fluency
If I asked you to describe the perfect place to learn English and get fluent, what would you say?
In my experience, most students say that it would be in London, or New York, or somewhere where you would get the chance to fully immerse yourself in the English language.
The idea of immersion in an English-speaking country is very tempting for two main reasons:
- It provides you with unlimited opportunities to practice
- It gives you a chance to hear and speak real English
But for most people, it’s not a realistic option. You have responsibilities and restrictions. Work, friends, family, bills. You can’t move to another country just to learn English!
So this means you need to accept that you will never be in the perfect learning environment, truly immersed in English. You will need to accept the inferior option, which is learning English at home. But there’s an important truth you need to know:
Your brain doesn’t know the difference!
Your brain doesn’t know if you are listening to a podcast in California, or Rome. It doesn’t know if you’re having a conversation online, or in a coffee shop in Sydney. It doesn’t know if you’re doing flashcards in Tokyo or London.
It means that immersion is not a place, it’s a behaviour. Learning English at home is not second-best. In fact it is the superior option!
Unlimited opportunity is in your hands
Supposedly, one great advantage of living in an English-speaking country is that you will be forced to use your English. Everything from shopping at the supermarket to going to the cinema will require it.
So in reality, the main attraction of immersion is the necessity to speak English. But again, necessity isn’t a place, it’s a behaviour.
I know many students who have created the necessity to speak English in their homes in Spain, and I also know many others who have moved to London and lived very happily without using their English at all. As an adult, you can shop at the supermarket without saying a single word.
Creating the necessity to use English is 100% in your control. The quantity of materials in English and opportunities to use your English online mean that there really is no excuse.
But I want to learn real English!
It’s natural to think that real, authentic English can only be found in English-speaking countries like America, or England. And that was true in the past. But English is now a global language. The reality is that you are far more likely to use your English to speak to other non-native speakers.
Real English will be the English that you use to communicate. It’s a waste of your time and energy to be immersed in New York English if you’re never going to speak to New Yorkers.
People who are great communicators in English understand that focusing on the variety of English that you need to use is the key to success.
Develop good behaviours
These are some useful behaviours to immerse yourself in English at home:
- Read 5 pages of an interesting book every day
- Find a podcast or YouTube channel about something you love
- Start a blog or a podcast about something you love
- Teach something you know about
- Find a speaking partner online and schedule regular conversations
There is nothing revolutionary on that list. No secret method. Always remember that learning a language is simple, not easy.
Whatever immersion activities you do, the important thing is to make them a habit, and make them personal. The power to get fluency is not in another country, it’s in your hands.