By Grace Brennan

12 February 2024 - 11:55

Students have a conversation and smile

In this article you will learn how full English immersion can help improve your English skills fast. Follow our tips for finding opportunities to submerge yourself in the language!

People often say that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. But what does that mean? 

Immersion is an educational strategy where you have to communicate in English every day, in real-world contexts. It is very effective when you are preparing for IELTS because it forces you to speak, listen, read, write and think in English continuously. 

Learn about the benefits of taking IELTS with the British Council

Here’s why English immersion is so important, and how you can create an immersive English learning experience. 

How important is English immersion in English language learning?

Immersion is a useful learning strategy for language students. By constantly exposing yourself to English, you start to organically think, speak, read, and write in English, and are more likely to remember new vocabulary and grammar because you learned it in a practical, meaningful way. 

Some theories suggest that English immersion works so well because learners progress when they are repeatedly exposed to English that is slightly too difficult for them. As a result, when immersed in English, you can pick up new terms and expressions faster while still understanding the majority of what is communicated around you. It’s no surprise that research shows language immersion can improve learners’ language level. 

Is English immersion a good way of preparing for IELTS?

When preparing for IELTS, it’s important to thoroughly review the test format and test tasks. However, English immersion is also a useful preparation strategy. It can help you to prepare for your test in the following ways:

1. Develop language proficiency

English immersion focuses on real-world language rather than isolated grammar and vocabulary, and so boosts your ability to understand, communicate, and interact in English.

2. Sharpen listening skills

Being immersed in English means hearing different accents, speaking speeds, and dialects, which will prepare you for the Listening section of the IELTS test.

3. Practise speaking

Full immersion prompts you to speak in English more regularly and to express your ideas more coherently. With this practice, you’ll feel more confident in your IELTS Speaking test.

4. Expand vocabulary

English immersion will expose you to lots of new vocabulary, which will be useful in every section of IELTS. 

5. Improve reading comprehension

Total English immersion includes reading newspapers, online content, and other written material in English. Doing so helps you become more adept at extracting information and understanding ideas in English – a core skill tested in the IELTS Reading section.

6. Build confidence

English immersion can help you feel more confident when speaking, writing, listening, and reading in English. You’ll feel more confident on test day, too! 

How can I create an immersive English environment?

You don’t have to live in an English-speaking country to enjoy an immersive English environment. You can create your own English immersion by building a daily routine that involves lots of language practice: 

1. Reading

Set aside dedicated time to read in English every day. Then select a mix of content that you find interesting to read – this could be a favourite novel, magazines or an online blog. For fluency purposes, try reading aloud too – this can improve your pronunciation and understanding of the narrative.

2. Writing

Writing daily can have a big positive impact on your English. Whether a journal entry or a short paragraph, writing in English advances your language skills significantly. You could use writing prompts to stimulate your creativity. Collect feedback wherever possible – you could ask English-speaking friends or colleagues to review your work. Don’t take corrections personally, editing is part of the process and ultimately pushes your English abilities forward.

To practise your writing skills for IELTS, check the online practice tests here

3. Speaking

Commit to speaking English for at least a few minutes per day. You can do so with other people or by yourself, but the key is to maintain regular practice. Find language exchanges or language partners for conversations in English or use a language app where you can record yourself speaking. 

Look for activities that you can do in English, in order to grow your vocabulary and have designated time where you know you only talk in English. For example, joining an English-speaking sports team or a film club that reviews movies in English. If you feel ready, you could even look for opportunities to speak in English in public – giving a presentation at work or joining a toastmasters club – to put your English into action.

4. Listening

You should practise your listening skills every day with a range of diverse resources. Podcasts, audiobooks, radio shows, interviews, and online lectures in English are all helpful, and many are available for free online. Choose content that appeals to you and ensure that you’re actively listening by summarising the core themes and points once the audio has finished. Where possible, turn on subtitles, so you can read as you listen and identify complex phrases.

Look for content that has a mixture of accents from the UK, USA, Australia, and other regional accents – that way you won’t be reliant on hearing only one type of English.

After practising your listening skills for some time, you can try taking an IELTS Listening practice test and assess your performance. 

Immersion is a reliable learning strategy

Immersion has long been a trusted tool to learn English – and for good reason. Surrounding yourself with English makes you feel more at ease with the language and enhances your capacity to think, speak, and act in English. The trick is to blend English content into your life so that it feels natural, and you become accustomed to both producing and processing information in English. 

Not to mention, English immersion can prepare you for specific scenarios. If you’re moving to an English-speaking country, want to apply for an English-speaking job or study at a higher education course in English, being immersed in the language beforehand can make the transition much smoother and it can also help you get a high score in the English proficiency test required, like the IELTS test.

Get your English immersion started now. Prepare for IELTS with IELTS Ready.

Learn about the benefits of taking IELTS with the British Council