5 Ways to Immerse Yourself in Learning a New Language

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If it has been on your bucket list to learn a second language, congratulations on getting started towards attaining that goal! It doesn’t take long to see how quickly you forget what you’ve managed to retain during your initial training. But, no worries, you’ve got this! Like with most things in life, the more you practise, the more proficient you will become in your chosen language. Sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in more practice outside of that once a week class, so here are some ways you can get the most out of the language learning experience and ensure that your new-found knowledge doesn’t evaporate while you sleep.

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1. Study While you Snooze

Speaking of sleep, it’s a great time to absorb a bit more information. Even though your conscious mind has shut down for the day, your subconscious is still hard at work helping you take in new data and cement in the information you’ve taken in during the day. Find or make a recording of your lessons and put it on repeat while you slumber. If you feel like it might be interrupting your precious R.E.M. sleep, set a timer for an hour and at least fall asleep to the sounds of the foreign tongue.

2. Watch TV

Whether it’s movie night or you’re the type of person who likes to have the TV on as a companion as you move throughout your day, reset your habits–and your television selections. Foreign films with subtitles are a fantastic way to hear accurate dialect while seeing the words that deepen your understanding of the translation. With repetition, remove the subtitle option and see if you can follow along with the conversation. If foreign films aren’t your thing, click on a soap opera or dubbed movie for extra exposure.

3. Headsets

Our days are busy and we’re constantly on the move. Whether in your car, on a walk, or riding a bike, don the earbuds and keep the foreign dialogues pulsing through your mind. Try recording your language coach or yourself speaking to listen to again and again. Or download your favourite podcast to practise while at the gym. Another option is to listen to a favourite book, translated and read by a foreign speaker.

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4. Label Your Home

In addition to audio cues, seeing things visually helps retain the information.  So each time you see an item in your house and also see the foreign word associated with it your brain will make the connection, even if you’re not entirely conscious in your effort to remember that word.

To reinforce this, create a pile of 3 x 5 cards with the foreign name for common items written on each one. Then tape the cards to the couch, microwave, jacket, bed, mirror, shoes, and glasses. With your home covered in 3 x 5 cards, you will greatly improve the exposure to your new language.

5. Find a Community

If you’re learning a foreign language, it stands to reason that you have an interest in visiting the country or countries of that tongue. If you don’t have the time, money and resources to make the trek, look for other ways to hear natives speak the language. In larger cities, visit the area of town with condensed numbers of that culture’s population.

A visit to Chinatown will give you a deep immersion into the chatter of Chinese all around you. In a smaller community, ask around to find language clubs, tutors, or even community members who are interested in practising with you. Perhaps you have as much to offer them as they offer you as they also learn your language.

Taking on a new language is challenging, but the more frequently that you can see and hear it, the more quickly you will internalize what you are learning. While you sleep, drive, and shower, there is always an opportunity to immerse yourself a little deeper into the culture, words, and ideas of your chosen language. So challenge yourself to try these options and find other ways to stay connected–and you’ll be deciding to take on a third language before you know it!

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