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As a beginner in language X, how will immersion in that language's country help learn the language faster and better?

Are there any studies that show that visiting the language's country helps to learn a language faster and better?

Preferably studies that focus on beginners, but general studies are fine too.

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    (voting to close as too broad) It depends what "X" is. You need not need to go to England to learn English, but you may need to go Philippines to learn Tagalog. – bytebuster Apr 5 '16 at 17:51
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    "Should I move to another country?" isn't really on-topic here. Asking whether and when immersion is most effective for learning a language is probably a good question, though. Can you edit the question to be more objective? Perhaps "I have a budget to spend X months in Japan. At what stage of my learning process should I consider going to maximize the ROI in terms of time spent?" (Just a random suggestion; you can narrow it down countless ways, I'd imagine) – Flimzy Apr 5 '16 at 18:00
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    As a general rule you're probably want to wait until you're more advanced. As a beginner you'll be expected to communicate and find yourself at a loss for words with no one to help you. If your life depends on it you may end up learning something but with more stress than you'd probably prefer. – intcreator Apr 6 '16 at 4:51
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When you're immersed in a language's country, you'll be exposed to not only the language, but also:

  • The culture: an integral part of understanding the language; the language grew or morphed based on the culture.
  • The language, as it's spoken in day-to-day life. Sure, maybe you can introduce yourself, you can describe where you live, what you need, where you want to go, etc., etc., but maybe you're not quite up to par with idioms, expressions, slang, informal speech, dialect(s), grammatical inconsistencies, bartering, jokes... everyday speech.

Immersion may also have unique effects on how the brain processes the language. From this study:

...measures of brain processing showed that different types of training led to different brain mechanisms.

"Only the immersion training led to full native-like brain processing of grammar... ...So if you learn a language you can come to use native language brain processes, but you may need immersion rather than classroom exposure."

According to this, immersion leads to native-like processing of a language (specifically grammar) better than a classic classroom approach.


As far as learning a language faster, I would say, yes, you would learn it faster, but only if you're still concentrating on learning. Living in country X is not going to magically convert you into a native speaker.

  • Note that the study by Morgan-Short et al. was based on an artificial language with 13 words and (as far as I can tell) a regular grammar. I wonder how the researchers would argue for the external validity of their study, i.e. how the results can be generalised to full-blown non-constructed languages, which have lots of grammatical exceptions and a vocabulary that is larger by several orders of magnitude. – Christophe Strobbe Aug 19 '16 at 14:14

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