Outcome-Oriented Outings: Immersion Programs for Adult FL Professionals

Vera Gorokhov, Foreign Service Institute; Lyubov Koyfman, Foreign Service Institute

Among the desired outcomes for adult learners participating in total language immersions (increased fluency, improved listening comprehension, stamina building) one very important outcome is insight into the learner’s own strengths and weaknesses. The opportunity to reflect on one’s learning and assess one’s own language abilities is a critical feature of a well-designed immersion experience.

Presenters describe such a week-long local language immersion for Foreign Service Officers learning Russian in preparation for their assignments to Russian-speaking posts around the world. This immersion is part of a proficiency-based, intensive language program. Presenters discuss the overall program structure, preparations, team building events, reflection and self-assessment strategies, and student-initiated scheduling of activities.

The variety of activities that comprise this immersion are aimed at: 1. building students’ speaking and listening stamina in Russian; 2. developing fluency and confidence in speaking in unpredictable and informal situations; 3. expanding students’ repertoire of everyday, ordinary vocabulary; and 4. helping students to discover what they, as individuals, can already do in the language, and a sense of where they need to focus in their language learning.

Through a combination of practice and reflection, participants become re-energized and re-refocused. They gain insights into their own strengths and weaknesses in speaking and understanding Russian, and become aware of areas they need to work on as they continue their language learning.

Handouts demonstrate how such program may be put together with student participation and provide practical tips and lessons learned on immersion design.