Here in Canada, we understand the benefits of immersion for second-language learning. Because we are a bilingual country, many French and English immersion programs are offered nationwide to help our young learners grow into fully bilingual citizens. This has made us a leader in second-language immersion education in both research and practice.
Major research bodies like the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education have come to discover what teachers and facilitators at ESL programs like Destination Canada have known for years: English acquisition is made easier in a fully immersive educational environment!
Here are 4 research-based reasons to choose an immersive English summer program for your child.
1. Bi-Literate Achievement: Immersive ESL Education Produces Better Readers
The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition names Canada as a main frontier for immersive language education, reporting that our nation’s immersion efforts produce “high achievement in bilingualism and bi-literacy.”
Bi-literacy is the ability to read fluently in two languages. Through top immersion programs like Destination Canada’s English summer school, students can become stronger and faster English readers than their peers in part-time or non-immersive ESL programs. CARLA sites the daily grammar study and “interference inhibition” (minimized classroom distractions, including less switching between an English learner’s native language and newly-learned language) as factors giving immersion students better second-language reading skills.
2. Immersive English Summer Programs Can Curb ‘The Native Speaker Effect’
‘The Native Speaker Effect’ is a language-industry term for the divide between a language’s native speakers and those who learned it later in life. In general, research finds that those who have spoken English since early childhood will usually be stronger speakers than ESL students, because the grammar, vocabulary, and tenses often come more naturally to them. Studies show that modern immersion programs can produce speakers who overcome this divide.
“Immersion students consistently develop native-like levels of comprehension, such as listening and reading skills, in their second language,” states a CARLA report. “They also display fluency and confidence when using it.”
“Immersion students whose first language is not English become more balanced bilinguals and develop higher levels of bilingualism,” explains CARLA researcher Dr. Kim Potowski. Potowski found that the oral and written language skills of English learners in immersion programs were only slightly behind those of native English speakers, and significantly better than those of peers in mainstream schools.
3. Metalinguistic Awareness: Immersive ESL Programs Produce Better Thinkers
Metalinguistics is, broadly speaking, an awareness of the structure of language and its use. In an immersion program, this occurs naturally as students process the new grammar and language structures they are actively using every day.
In a recent York University study, professor Ellen Bialystok and assistants Kathleen F. Peets and Sylvain Moreno studied the development of metalinguistic awareness in children becoming bilingual in immersion education programs. They found that that learning a second language in an immersive ESL environment even has a positive effect on children’s overall cognitive skill development.
4. Immersive International Language Programs Connect Students with Culture
In a top international language program like Destination Canada, students of all backgrounds come together to achieve a common goal. As well as encountering the diverse cultures of their peers, they also learn and participate in the culture of the community and country they are learning in, since many activities relate to their surroundings.
In Potowski’s research, for students who lived in communities without large populations of English speakers, being able to learn English in the cultural context provided them with an understanding they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
She says immersion helps students “realize very quickly that language and culture go hand-in-hand.”
Are you looking into the right ESL summer program in Canada for your child?
Visit Destination Canada to learn more about getting started.