You’ve probably heard that the best way to learn a new language is through total immersion. Well, it’s certainly true to some extent, but there’s a catch. Immersion is only effective if you take care not to drown in the language. Ever wondered why some people move to a foreign speaking area and never learn the local language? Of course, there are plenty of reasons, but one of them is that they are overwhelmed by the language. In this post, we will talk about how you can use language immersion in the right way and avoid drowning in the language.
Sure enough, you need to be submerged in water, but you also have to slowly challenge yourself and learn gradually. Chris Lonsdale talks about this concept in a TEDx Talk. If you throw a man who can’t swim in the middle of the ocean, he won’t learn, he will drown.
Language learning works in the same way. You need to be immersed in it, but you also need to use your surroundings in a way that gives you the chance to learn from the experience. Total immersion can work, but it has to be constructive, not destructive.
Let’s say you are really serious about learning German. You may think that moving to Germany for a year is the best thing you can do. The truth is that many people move to a different country and don’t really learn much at all. The problem is that languages are learned mostly with comprehensible input. This means that if you don’t understand anything at all, there is no way for you to start making associations and learn from context. This makes learning incredibly difficult.
But what if you learn the language for a few months before moving to Germany? You would at least have basic knowledge of the language, be able to understand some of the conversations taking place and practice what you know. You would have a much more positive experience. In this case, you would still struggle, but you would stay afloat and get stronger. This is how you can learn lots of new words from context. Learning the language for a few months before complete immersion changes everything.
Now, we are not saying that you should always feel comfortable before immersing yourself, it is quite the opposite actually. In order to learn a language successfully, you must be in situations that are out of your comfort zone, without being totally overwhelmed by it. It is a very important distinction to make. For example, if you want to read a book in your new language, it might not be the time for Shakespeare or Moliere, not yet anyway. How about the Cat in the Hat? Choose something that is simple to understand and that you’ll enjoy. But if you understand everything you’re reading, it’s time to move up!
The goal is to challenge yourself, without taking on too much at once. If you can find that perfect balance, you’ll constantly get better. Remember to stick to material that is slightly above your level. If the material is too hard to understand, everything will seem like one giant blur and you won’t get much from it. If you are just getting started and you want to watch movies to help you learn languages, it is best to choose a movie that is easier to understand. It can seem silly, but pre-school material can be really effective as a beginner.
It’s a common misconception that the only way to learn a language is through total immersion. Remember that it’s important to match your learning material and environment with your current level in the language. That’s the only way you’ll truly learn from language exposure. Don’t rush it. Take it one step at a time. Total immersion can be incredibly effective once you do have that solid foundation in your new language. Perhaps it should be seen as the final step in your language-learning journey. In OUINO, our language-learning method, we have developed a number of different tools to let you control how and what you learn according to your current level. If you want to know how it’s done, you should check out our website at OUINO.com. Thanks a lot! 🙂
We have combined everything we know from years of language acquisition and research to create an awesome language-learning method. Visit OUINO.com to learn more.
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