Immersion 101: Living on a Foreign Language Hall

by   |  

The bell rings. Finished with classes for the day, you pack up your bag and head for your room. On the sidewalk you greet a classmate with your usual “Hey, how’s it going?”

Then you reach your residence hall. You pause a moment to collect your thoughts before entering. You open the door and see your roommate studying on the floor. “Comment ça va? Qu’est-ce que tu a fait aujourd’hui?”

When you live on a language hall, you get a splash of immersion, speaking only your chosen foreign language with your roommates and hall mates. With anyone else, you speak English, but with the people from your language hall, you may speak only your foreign language.

Why Live on a Language Hall?

Dr. Patterson, chair of the Division of Modern Language at BJU, wanted students to have a way to practice speaking in their foreign languages on a daily basis with their peers outside the pressure of the classroom. The goal is to speak more, to make mistakes and to learn.

By living on a language hall, you increase your fluency much faster than if you study your language only for a class. Just think, you are constantly using what you’re learning, and you don’t have to go out of your way to get those conversation minutes for class.

There’s less pressure in a language hall because you are all learning the language together and know that no one’s completely fluent yet (except maybe the one or two native speakers on the hall, who help you learn).

Who Can Join a Language Hall?

You must have studied at least two semesters of your language before applying. But you don’t have to be taking a language course while living in the language halls. This way, even if you’ve already completed your language courses, you don’t have to lose what you’ve learned.

What Languages Are Available?

Different languages are offered different years depending on interest and demand. BJU has offered Chinese, Spanish, French and German.

Can You Ever Speak English?

Yes. The first and last weeks of the semester are English-speaking weeks. This way you get time to bond with your roommates before complete immersion sets in, and then at the end you can relax and catch up on anything you couldn’t say in your foreign language.

Also, during the AACS competition, when high schoolers stay in the residence halls with college students, you can speak English out of courtesy to your guest.

Do You Get Any Academic Credit?

Currently, after living in a language hall for one year, you receive a merit badge for your participation and a certificate of completion. After two years you receive a certification of merit.

But in the 2018–19 school year, you will have the opportunity to receive academic credit for your participation (one credit per semester). In order to earn the credit, you will need to participate in extra projects that will further your language skills, but this is not required. You can still enjoy living in the language halls without academic credit.