Thursday, July 06, 2006

New Immersion Course for Arabic

Concordia Language Villages is adding Arabic to its successful language immersion programs. The article doesn't mention the audience for this program but historically they targeted youth. I believe that they should target adult learners also leveraging their experience in other immersion programs.
I don't have enough knowledge about their program and methodology or data about historical performance. Concordia historically used a mix of cultural and linguistic education. This style is usually the most successful. In general, a successful immersion program for Arabic that makes the language stick is harder to design and administer compared to other languages. Here in the United States we lack the skills and enough teachers who are experienced with this kind of teaching style, we lack the curriculum to make it successful and there is no effort that I am aware of for developing rapid acquisition-by-immersion curriculum. Having a group of students in a classroom or even living with a language speaker, and forcing them to speak the language has its advantages for sure but doing it for short periods of time (2 to 9 weeks) without the proper curriculum and methods rarely produces significant acquisition or reinforcement (personal opinion based on 15 years of experience). At any rate, good luck to Concordia. I will investigate the program and come back to you all with a better assessment of it or new information.

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