As mentioned in the previous post, I’m living with a Korean host family right now. I was going to get my own studio apartment, but the only one I could find that I really liked is booked at the moment, so I figured what the hell, why not live with a surrogate family for a while. For less than the price of rent in San Diego, I get a nice room and delicious home cooked meals each day from my new Korean mom. It’s a sweet deal. But the sweetest part of this sweet deal? I now know the truest, purest top-of-the-mountain form of immersion: the Real Deal (TM).
When I wake up in the morning, K-mom speaks to me in Korean. She talks to me while she’s cooking, talks to me while she’s cleaning, talks with me while we walk, asks me simple questions I can understand, and doesn’t mind at all the 9 out of 10 times I have no idea what she said. She JUST. KEEPS. TALKING. I listen to her talking to her husband (for the 37 minutes per day he’s not at work), listen to the daughters chat away, listen to them talk to their friends, listen to them talk at the dinner table, watch Korean television with the family every night, browse the Korean books on the walls, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I went to the mall today because I felt like seeing an action movie. Of course the only one there was Korean, with no subs. You see, it’s out of my hands at this point; if I don’t get out of this place soon, I’m going to speak Korean.
I actually feel guilty, like I’m cheating on French with the new hottie in the hood. Don’t worry French, you know I still love you. Sugar-Daddy’s just browsing the menu, he aint gonna order or nothin’.
Anyway, here’s the sweet, sweet meat of this post: I thought I knew everything about home immersion environments, but as always, I ended up learning something new in my travels. I used to say “YOU DON’T NEED TO, AND IN FACT YOU SHOULDN’T, MOVE TO YOUR L2 COUNTRY UNTIL YOU’RE FLUENT!!1!” The first part is true, of course you don’t need to move anywhere; the second part is bullshit. It turns out there’s a rung even higher on the language acquisition ladder than our media-based immersion environments: an immersion environment with real people in it who only speak your L2.
Don’t get me wrong; running a home immersion environment in your home country is still the best financial option for most people, and still massively effective, but let’s be honest– it requires discipline to sit in a room with only books and screens to keep you company, and to tell the environment what to do. But here in my new Korean house the immersion environment is running itself. I don’t have to tell my environment what to tell me; it’s on auto-pilot. Real people are like a never-ending L2 fountain that seriously won’t shut up even when you want them to. I have realized that the true-ultimate-un-shake-a-stick-at-able-most-bestest-fastest-ever power of language immersion involves real people.
In summary, HOMESTAY = (SELF-GENERATING IMMERSION ENVIRONMENT) – (LONELINESS). My new recommendation would be to run a home environment until you hit the intermediate level, then book it over to your L2′s homeland and do a homestay for as long as possible. I seriously need to go do this in France. Speaking of French, let’s just say that every time I try to work on it, this damned Korean just pulls me right back in. Also, I wish they had a gym near here. My pecs are getting antsy… you wouldn’t like them when they’re antsy.
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