There is probably no better way to learn a foreign language than total immersion in a country where it is spoken. To make the logistics of a séjour linguistique (language-learning vacation) easier, French marketing expert Cédric Ghennouchi has come up with the idea of applying the collaborative economy – on the model of successful services like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar – to language learning through a new service called Nativing, which pairs “coaches” in one country with people from another who are looking to improve their language skills and knowledge of another culture.
An avid traveler who speaks several languages and was once an Erasmus exchange student in the north of England, Ghennouchi knows well the importance of language learning and opening up to other cultures and has made cultural exchange an integral part of Nativing.
The idea is that the hosts provide their language learners with housing, meals, cultural activities, language coaching and help in dealing with daily life in the host country. As with alternative homestay options, each host can choose which services to offer, meaning that a range of prices is available, starting at €50 a day.
The coaches are not necessarily professional teachers but are screened and trained by Nativing in the “Immersioo” method, based on the practice of the language in everyday situations and through shared activities and interests.
An app offers ideas to help coaches structure their approach in the most effective way. In return, the learner has a total-immersion experience that would ordinarily be hard to come by, since it can be surprisingly easy to live in a country and not speak the language or interact with locals on more than a surface level. Nativing currently has French-, English- and Spanish-speaking hosts.
Ghennouchi has had a good idea and seems to be on the way to making it work, but only time will tell if this kind of linguistic couchsurfing will really take off.