What is learning Arabic through Immersion? | (Finally!) The Truth in 3 key points

Learning Arabic through Immersion… You may have heard of it before, but asked yourself what it really means to learn a language through immersion

Well… 

You see, the use of language immersion as a pedagogical approach to acquiring the language of the Qur’an is on the rise. The reasons which led to this frank success are simple, and attest to a terrible current situation. And besides, I bet those are most likely the same reasons why you are here today.

Look, let me explain…

Surely, you too are struck at the limits of the traditional teaching methods of Arabic, correct? Because, you see, it’s quite disappointing to have invested years in learning Arabic for and, in the end, not being able to hold a simple conversation! Don’t you think so? Well, this demotivating linguistic experience in Arabic is reinforced by a similar experience in French, with unconvincing results after years of efforts in French classes throughout secondary school. It’s cruelly discouraging, isn’t it? 

But there’s something worse:

You see, what’s worse is, the after-effects that remain. Today, in the minds of many people, learning a second language is often perceived as a difficult task, a painful journey through the desert that should last for many years and sometimes even a hopeless dream that one contemplates in the distance, but that has already been abandoned. That’s terrible, don’t you think?

And rightfully so…

Now you’ve come to know, these are the reasons why the use of language immersion as a pedagogical approach to acquire the language of Arab-Muslim civilisations is experiencing a swift rise. You see, this is because absorbing Arabic through immersion allows for learning Arabic easily and quickly, while taking real pleasure in experiencing the language of Ishmael and in revelling in the wonderful riches of the Arabic language. And that makes you want to do it, doesn’t it?

But… 

As you may have noticed, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding language immersion. This is why I receive a lot of emails from my readers whose questions are full of misconceptions about the immersive approach, and even about the definition of learning Arabic through immersion.

And rightfully so… 

You see, like these readers, you may also be wondering what are the linguistic secrets that lie behind the notion of learning Arabic through immersion because, in reality, immersion is an exceptionally powerful and revolutionary method of learning. But beware, as you can understand, this is only true if this didactic approach is applied correctly. And in order to know how, it is essential to understand what linguistic immersion is in concrete terms, and to understand what we refer to as Arabic Immersion when we talk about an immersive approach.

Therefore… In this article:

·        You will concretely discover what it is to learn Arabic through immersion. 

·        But even better: you will explore the secrets of immersion, and understand why this approach is effective and revolutionary for learning Arabic easily and quickly. 

·        And as a bonus: you’ll discover anecdotes, surprising scientific facts and many other treasures during this reading adventure.

So, are you ready for this exquisite adventure?

Come on…

Let’s go!

1. Language immersion is a natural approach to learning Arabic easily (find out why it’s so revolutionary…) 

1.1. What is the natural approach to language learning? (It’s so simple, it’s disturbing…) 

You see, immersion is a natural approach to learning Arabic easily. This means that this method is inspired by the natural learning mechanisms that a child uses to acquire their mother tongue. You will understand in a moment why this approach to learning the Arabic language is extraordinarily effective and revolutionary.

Because…, here it is:

Do you remember how you acquired your mother tongue? You see, it’s very simple…

Look: 

You didn’t start by learning endless lists of vocabulary words, right? And best of all: When you were a baby, you also didn’t start learning your native language by learning grammar rules, writing or reading. Yet, today you are a native speaker of this first language that you acquired naturally, unconsciously and effectively, aren’t you? 

Because, here’s the secret

1.2. The secret to learning your mother tongue (and this funny discovery about babies…)

You see, the secret is that you actually started learning to speak your mother tongue before you were even born! That’s absolutely amazing, isn’t it? Because, hold on tight, language learning for babies begins as soon as they have functioning ears, that is, from the 7th month of gestation. That has been scientifically proven! 

Do you see the subtlety? 

The subtlety here is very simple, yet wonderfully powerful at the same time. Look, learning your native language started with listening because even before you were born, you were already exposed and immersed in your native language that you heard all day long

So, a word of advice: be careful what you say around a pregnant woman, because someone is listening to you! However, this discovery is still extraordinary, don’t you think?

Precisely, because, even after your birth, you continued to listen, listen and listen to your mother tongue before you started to speak. At first, your words were few, then a few sentences until you got off the ground speaking fluently. And do you know what happened next?

Listen…

Then you went to school and you learned to read and write. However, when you read and write, you already understand the meaning of words and sentences because you were already able to communicate in this language. But that’s not all: you also learned the grammatical and syntactic rules, but by the time you learned them, you were already able to form grammatically correct sentences because, in reality (hold on tight), during your learning process, you suddenly became aware of the grammatical rules and language skills that you had already acquired unconsciously and naturally.

But there is one problem

1.3. What is the magic tool that triggered this unconscious and natural acquisition of language skills?

You might be wondering how you were able to naturally and effortlessly acquire these grammatical rules and vocabulary. In other words, what is the magical tool that enabled you to activate these natural learning mechanisms so that you could easily absorb these language skills

The answer is simple, but full of meaning. Here it is: 

You see, actually, you have acquired these grammatical rules and vocabulary in an unconscious and natural way thanks to your colossal exposure to and your massive immersion in your native language, which means that it wasn’t the study of language, literature and grammar that made you a native speaker. But listen carefully, it is the massive exposure to your native language that has been the magical tool to effectively develop your language skills through your natural learning mechanisms. 

And now, look out, you’ve have just hit the target because, look: 

You see, what you just saw is a demonstration of the power of natural language learning mechanisms. And in fact, learning Arabic through immersion is an educational approach that relies precisely on the power of the natural method of language learning. This is why language immersion is deemed a natural approach, and it makes learning Arabic easy and fast. And this is why immersion is a revolutionary approach in the current context of teaching the Arabic language because language immersion is undoubtedly much better than the traditional didactic approaches for learning Arabic. (You will better understand why through the course of this article…). 

Except that…

Brimming with unprecedented enthusiasm for mastering the Arabic language, you may be saying to yourself now: 

Let’s go learn Arabic in Egypt,

land of mysterious scripts!

Let(s go learn Arabic in Morocco, 

discover the old kasbahs!

Let’s go learn Arabic in Saudi Arabia,

on the soil of Mecca, in this cosmopolitan paradise!

Let’s go learn Arabic in Jordan,

at the gates of Petra…what infinite beauty!

Because yes, it is important…

You see, besides my inglorious poetic attempt which you have just witnessed, there is a real fundamental question being highlighted here, and that is this: by asking this question, you’re telling yourself that if massive exposure to Arabic is the key to bilingualism, then the miraculous solution would be to go to an Arabic-speaking country, right? 

And the answer is no. 

Learning Arabic through immersion abroad is not an effective solution for most beginner learners and the reason is simple: it lacks the ‘essential ingredient’ for the immersion to be effective.

And that essential ingredient is this: 

understandable content. But beware, the idea is simple, but not simplistic. This is because it is deep and subtle in its application. And you will understand all these little secrets in a moment…

2. Learning Arabic in immersion is an exposure to understandable content in the Arabic language (be careful, it’s more subtle than it sounds…)

2.1. What is effective, understandable content when it comes to learning Arabic?

You see, for language immersion to be effective, it is essential that the content you consume is understandable. This means you must be able to understand the overall meaning of the content to which you are exposed, whether the content is audio, videos, TV series, stories or anything else. But beware, there is a common mistake here, and a subtlety to understand.

Look…

Understandable content is indeed content whose overall meaning you understand. But it’s not content that you fully understand. And that is the important subtlety because if you expose yourself to content that you fully understand, it’s simple: you’re not progressing in Arabic and you aren’t learning. And you see, that is one of the most common mistakes made by learners of Arabic through immersion. 

Listen…

For language immersion to be effective, the learner must not try to understand everything word for word, and down to the comma because it is this attitude that destroys any chance of acquiring immersed Arabic by creating unnecessary frustration and discouragement. And even worse: the pleasure of learning Arabic disappears, and we give up, then we give up our dream of one day being able to speak Arabic fluently. 

So, here is the trick for a successful immersion experience

2.2. The trick to immersion 

You see, the trick to a successful immersion experience is trusting yourself and trusting the amazing capabilities of the human brain. And that is a fundamental aspect of the concept of learning Arabic through immersion. By the way, when you were a child, you didn’t understand all the details of what those around you were telling you, right? But, listen carefully, the message was well suited to your level and understandable enough that you understood the overall meaning. And that was enough to make you a native speaker.

So, you see, why should it be any different for you when learning Arabic? 

True… but…

I bet you are wondering what this understandable content looks like, especially when you are a beginner in the Arabic language, and have no vocabulary. 

Here’s the secret: 

You see, the essence of the immersive approach to acquiring Arabic is to use body language, drawings, images, sounds, simple stories and any other creative means to make the message in Arabic understandable. You see, there is always that early stage where the content is very simplified and pictorial to help build a linguistic base, then progressively the Arabic learner takes off by consuming more and more elaborate content, such as more complex stories, cartoons or movies, for example.

And beware… you have just put your finger on an essential point… Let me explain: 

You see, learning Arabic through immersion is a gradual approach. At least, that’s how we understand it at Arabic Immersion because, you know, immersion does not mean to start learning the language of the Qur’an by uninterrupted listening of podcasts of geopolitical debates in Modern Standard Arabic in the hopes that the Arabic language will rub off on you, and make you an Arabic speaker in three months. You see, that is ineffective. The same logic applies to the concept of going into total immersion abroad about initial linguistic background.

Yes… but… there are lots of notions, words, concepts… and, in the end, we get lost, don’t we? Well, you are right! 

So… here is a recap of the mid-term in five points:  

You see, learning Arabic through immersion is: 

  1. A natural approach to language learning,
  2. The natural and unconscious acquisition of language skills,
  3. Confidence in the capabilities of the human brain,
  4. Mass exposure to understandable content,
  5. A progressive approach.

But that’s not all! 

Immersion is much more than that and you’ll find out just how much right now.

3. Acquiring Arabic through immersion is a communicative approach 

3.1. What is a communicative approach? 

You see, learning Arabic is a communicative approach to language learning. This means that you first start by learning to Arabic. In other words, it’s only later that you learn grammar rules, the alphabet, spelling, reading, writing and theoretical notions. That’s a revolutionary approach that goes against the grain of traditional Arabic teaching methods

Indeed, this is currently a very bad problem

3.2. The current very bad problem with learning Arabic

You know, the current problem with traditional teaching methods is to begin by teaching the alphabet, reading and theories of the Arabic language to students who do not yet know how to speak and communicate in Arabic. And you see, this traditional approach is woefully inefficient and catastrophic for learning a language because, listen, how many of us have become bilingual in French or Arabic by following this didactic strategy in school? Nobody!

Look…

Did you start studying the grammar rules or the alphabet in your native language before speaking? You can agree that, if put that way, this approach to language learning is crazy, right? So why take this outdated pedagogical approach to learning a foreign language?

Imagine a child or an adult who is just starting to learn Arabic. Better yet: let’s be crazy! Imagine teaching them the alphabet, writing and reading. You see, this studious student is going to be able to write Arabic by putting the letters together, and they are also going to be able to read Arabic by deciphering the words, but they will not be able to understand what they are reading and writing. Additionally, they will be unable to communicate and have a simple conversation in Arabic. And there we have touched the heart of the problem

Here is the problem:

You see, what’s the point of learning Arabic under these conditions? What’s the point of learning Arabic as a dead language? And, above all, you can agree that the point of learning a language is to be able to use it, right? That is why traditional methods of learning Arabic are outdated and ineffective. And, that is a terrible problem we currently face that must be resolved in order to breathe new life into learning Arabic, and to reconnect with the delights and treasures of the language of Arab-Muslim civilisation. Don’t you think?

By the way… here’s a very funny anecdote about it: 

Imagine me telling you one of my secrets by telling you with great pride that I am a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. You’d be impressed with my fighting skills, right? And better yet: you might even be a little more careful about what you say around me if you have a tendency to freely shell out offensive words.

But here’s the catch… :

You see, imagine I then tell you that I got this black belt in martial arts on the basis of written exams. You will most likely laugh in my face, right? Because you see, what’s the point of learning a combat sport behind a desk? And what’s the point of learning all these postures of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and the history of this art if you’ve never practiced it? It’s exactly the same with Arabic. This is why learning Arabic through immersion is an effective and revolutionary method

Because… look…

3.3. The secrets of the effectiveness of the communicative approach to learning Arabic easily

You see, learning Arabic through immersion is an approach that allows you to experience the Arabic language, to rub shoulders with it, master it, and fall in love with it. This means that you don’t approach the language of the Qur’an as a dead language, but as a living language. That’s because you are learning to use the Arabic language – to speak Arabic, recognise its sounds and understand your interlocutor. Then, you begin to taste the pleasures of the Arabic language.

Look…

Imagine that you understand the Qur’an that you are reading. Or, imagine that you understand movies in Arabic, or the TV series from the Arab world that you watch? And even better: imagine that you are traveling to Qatar, Palestine or Tunisia and that you are able to converse and form friendships with the local people. And indeed, these are just a few examples because there are thousands of ways to taste the pleasures and treasures of the language of Scheherazade

But :

You see, to get there you have to be able to understand Arabic. This is why the communicative approach is effective for learning Arabic easily and quickly. This is because, you see, this didactic approach focuses on understanding Arabic, listening to it and, above all, speaking it.

4. Learning Arabic through immersion: what to remember

4.1. The basics of learning Arabic through immersion

You see, learning Arabic through immersion is: 

  1. A natural approach to language learning,
  2. The natural and unconscious acquisition of language skills,
  3. Confidence in the capacities of the human brain,
  4. Mass exposure to understandable content,
  5. A progressive approach,
  6. a communicative approach,
  7. Experiencing the Arabic language first, before learning its theories,
  8. A method where pleasure is at the centre of learning.

4.2. Now, it’s your turn!

Tell us in the comments

– What difficulties have you encountered while learning Arabic?

– Do you have any questions about immersion?

You will soon discover many other articles that we have concocted for you on the subject! 

But…

In the meantime, if you are keen on learning Arabic, you can download this guide for free: “The 8 Biggest Mistakes Arab Language Learners Make“

Additionally, you can also discover our complete Arabic language learning programme for children and also, discover our Arabic immersion programme through a free trial week.

With that said, see you soon for new epic adventures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *