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The Complete Guide to Language Immersion

The Complete Guide to Language Immersion

“Being involved, learning firsthand and observing the craft and absorbing all you can makes it easier to define what you want.” – Giada De Laurentiis

Think about how you learned to ride a bike, swim front crawl at the pool, or play hoops in your backyard.

You learned it though immersion.

This applies to nearly everything we want to learn, from cooking to starting a business, and especially learning a new language!

The fundamental concept of immersion is quite obvious as it’s something we naturally act on without much thought. Most of us learned how to speak our native language because we grew up around people (family, friends, etc.) speaking it around us. In other words, we didn’t consciously decide that we were going to immerse ourselves in a language in order to learn it, it just happened.

Immersion > Classroom setting

A study was done by researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center, where subjects were divided into two groups, and were observed using a technique called electroencephalography (or EEG), which measures brain processing.

The two groups were both asked to study an artificial language, where one group studied the language in a formal classroom setting, while the other was trained through immersion.

After five months, the results clearly showed that the immersed group displayed the full brain patterns of a native speaker. This is mind-boggling, since 90% of committed language learners are still learning a language using the traditional classroom setting (and paying a premium price for it).

The researchers also concluded that for foreign language learners to become a native speaker, they simply must think like a native speaker, adding that adults who were immersed can just as easily become a native speaker as well.

However, the same fundamentals of immersion are not well set-up for us when we try to learn a new language. This is mostly because the location we live in prevents us from being immersed in the language, due to the limited number of people speaking it around us.

4 ways to immerse yourself

1. Want vs Need

There is a big difference between want and need. While “want” is a nice-to-have, a “need” is a must-have.

“Want” can often be confused for external needs, such as impressing those around you, versus a “need” that comes from within and serves as intrinsic motivation that is longer-lasting and sustainable.

Ask yourself: Why do you “need” to speak your target language?

Then come up with at least 3 powerful reasons. These should be powerful enough to make you want to take immediate action in learning the language.

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Listening to the stories of language learners, here are some powerful stories:

Family needs:

-“Need to be able to communicate with my family members”

“Need to speak Spanish to have a deeper connection with my spouse”

-“Need to teach my child so they can be grounded in their cultural roots, before they forget the language.”

Need to learn in order to communicate with my boyfriend/girlfriend’s family.”

Travel needs:

Need to get around safely and avoid being taken advantage of as a foreigner while traveling”

Need to learn in order to have a deeper cultural experience, and make the most of my travel experience”

Need to learn so I can meet friends without worrying about being alone.”

Career needs:

Need to expand my knowledge because the world is becoming globalized, boosting international business opportunities”

Need to learn a second language to improve my resume for career advancement and additional opportunities”

Need to work with clients who speak the foreign language, or I’ll be out of a job.”

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2. Absorb all information in your target language

Start by making a list of all the sources of information you draw from throughout the day, from the moment you wake up to hitting the sheets for bed time.

Some examples include:

-Your smartphone

-Your computer

-The newspaper (during breakfast or at work)

-Radio in the car

-Movies you watch (i.e. Netflix)

-Music you listen to

netflix-streaming-file-photo

    Now think of how you can change everything into the target language you want to learn.

    You could:

    -Change your smartphone language setting

    -Watch movies on Netflix with foreign language audio and English subtitles

    -Listen to podcasts in the foreign language

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    -Rock out to popular songs (i.e. Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony; for those who want to study Spanish!)

    Some changes will be small at first, but these changes accumulate into providing an immersive experience for you as time passes.

    The key to this strategy is not to go out of your way to immerse yourself in activities that you normally don’t do. Follow your daily routine to the minute, but just change the language.

    This means that if you don’t like reading newspapers, don’t go out of your way to read them. If you enjoy watching movies, continue to watch the movies you enjoy (don’t even change the genre), and use tools like Netflix to listen in the foreign audio with subtitles.

    Forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy is one of the fastest ways we’ll stop persisting in our learning journey, because our brain will associate the foreign language with negative associations, rather than positive ones.

    Of course, if you’re just starting to learn, this may seem confusing for you at first. But as you accelerate your learning journey with a professional coach (or another method), you’ll start to make out a few words, then a few sentences, and before you know it, you’ll begin to understand a good portion of the foreign information you’re absorbing.

    3. Keep a daily or weekly journal (or blog)

    This may seem to be mainly beneficial for your writing skills, but improving your writing skills (in any language) will help you become a more effective communicator in written and oral forms.

    If you already have a daily or weekly journal you write in, continue to write in the same frequency, but do it in your target foreign language.

    If you don’t, then start writing on a weekly basis to start with, then you can gradually increase the frequency as you feel more comfortable with the process. You can write about anything from: how you feel, what you’re most excited about, what you plan to do today, and what you learned.

    journal-011

      If you’d like more of a structure, you can borrow the five minute journal format:

      When you wake up, take five minutes to answer:

      • a. 3 things you’re most grateful for today
      • b. What will make today great?
      • c. I am… (happy, strong, fearless, intelligent, a supportive friend, a great boyfriend/girlfriend, an entrepreneur, etc.)

      Then at night before you head to bed, answer:

      1. 3 amazing things that happened today (and why)
      2. How could I have made today even better?

      *Feel free to adjust the questions as you wish. No length limit.

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      The best part about following the five-minute journal format is that you’ll not only improve your language skills, but you’ll feel happier, more grateful, and excited to explore your feelings.

      4. Work with a professional (or accountability partner)

      Language is learned with people, and used with people. This means that immersion in language learning doesn’t happen alone.

      For most of us who are not living in a foreign country, this leaves us with two options:

      1. Find someone who speaks the foreign language (and wants to learn your native language), and try to help each other out by spending half the time speaking one language and the other half speaking the other.
      2. Work with a qualified teacher online, who is 100% dedicated in helping you succeed.

      In summary, the biggest differences between the two comes down to money and time.

      Conversation Exchange

      Pros: Free

      Cons: Sucks up your time, unsustainable, and reduces learning speed.

      Conversation exchange can take a significant amount of time in finding the right partner (who is fluent in your target language, AND wants to learn your language; personality; location/time zone; time availability). From there, scheduling and keeping a consistent schedule to practice is also a big burden, and from personal experience it is rarely sustainable. You also have to keep in mind that 50% of your time needs to be dedicated in helping the other person, so in a 60-minute session, you’re actually practicing for only 30 minutes. Lastly, your conversation exchange is simply a native speaker, not a professional trained to help give you proper feedback, correct your mistakes, and guide you to the fastest way of learning the language.

      how-this-25-year-old-made-66000-in-a-month-by-teaching-an-online-course

        Professional teacher

        Pro: Faster learning, guaranteed accountability & success, and saves you time.

        Con: Costs money

        Working with a professional language teacher allows you to receive 100% attention focused on helping you succeed, a seamless scheduling experience to guarantee availability when you’re free, immediate feedback, and constant accountability.

        We’ve seen that working with a professional will not only save yourself from wasting time by accelerating your learning speed, but you can focus on what matters in your life, whether it’s your work, family, or your hobbies, instead of coordinating schedules.

        Websites like Rype, offer unlimited private Spanish lessons, with a dedicated professional teacher. You can have your lessons at home, at your office, and at any time of the day. It’s an easy way to learn without distracting you from your busy schedule.

        Through following these steps, immersion can happen within the comfort of your own home. All it takes is a little creativity, dedication, and help from a coach.

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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        Last Updated on May 25, 2020

        10 Best Task List Apps to Boost Productivity in 2020

        10 Best Task List Apps to Boost Productivity in 2020

        Organizational drag is anything that eats up time and keeps people from getting things done in time. Companies that wish to boost productivity do so by creating more efficient processes.

        This also applies to individuals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Whether you work alone or as part of a team, it is important to use the right tools to boost productivity, and having an accessible and easily manageable task list can go a long way.

        Here is a list of the top ten productivity apps that you can use to achieve more.

        1. ToDoist

          ToDoist is an awesome to-do task list app that is used by over 10 million people. To use the app, you just have to write down all the activities that you plan to do. The software will then interpret these activities and categorize the tasks accordingly.

          For instance, if you create a task to go for lunch at noon with a friend, the app will automatically categorize this task as a meeting and will send you a reminder at the right time.

          However, this app is more than a personal activity planner. You can use it to plan activities for the entire team. It is also good for planning entire projects, discussing details about the project, and monitoring the deadlines.

          The basic functionality is free, but you can unlock premium features for $36 or $60 a year for full access.

          Available on iOS and Android

          2. monday.com

            This productivity app lets you manage your workflows and tasks. It is a great tool for creating a task list and helping you have a clear view of your work and the status of each task.

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            The app is a bit similar to a spreadsheet. However, it looks much nicer, and it allows you to toggle between multiple views. It gives you alerts and notifications, and it allows you to attach files as well as communicate with colleagues.

            The features of Monday.com include a task board that can be customized to manage due date, hours spent, task status, and much more. Users can upload and attach files, make comments, mention members of their team, and more. It can also be integrated into Google Drive, Slack, GitHub, Jira, Dropbox, and many other platforms.

            If you have problems setting it up, you can contact the customer via email or phone.

            Available on iOS and Android

            3. CloudApp

              CloudApp is a great app for boosting productivity. It offers highly intuitive communication, which can help you save up to 56 hours a week. Your only problem will be deciding how you can utilize all the extra time.

              Whether you are talking with a customer, colleague, or client, this app has all the features you need. With GIFs, screenshots, and image annotation, you no longer have to write lengthy emails. Instead, you can show people what you want them to do.

              The app has over 3 million users. It has proven quite reliable when it comes to helping users to boost productivity. You can opt for the free version or you can opt for a $9 a month upgrade to access premium features.

              Available on iOS

              4. Quip

                If you are working closely with members of your team, Quip is a great app for team activities. The platform combines spreadsheets, documents, slides, and chat. Its main strength is that it comes with a suite of Live Apps. You can use them to increase the functionality of Quip.

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                Moreover, you will waste less time by being able to streamline the use of various tools. Quip is one of the most adaptable productivity apps in the world.

                There are options to use connected tools to track time, manage work, and much more. Some of the integrations of Quip are Dropbox, Github, Slack, Salesforce, and much more. The app costs just $30 a month for 5 users.

                Available on iOS and Android

                5. Trello

                  Trello is an app that makes managing projects an easy task. This is made possible by the app’s Kanban philosophy. It is a visual and intuitive platform.

                  Users can break huge tasks into small chunks, making it useful for creating a task list. This is made possible by creating cards for each task. The cards can be organized into different columns, which are representative of various stages of the project. Once a task is complete, a card is moved from one column to the next.

                  The app is free but it comes with a premium plan with $9.99 a month.

                  Available on iOS and Android

                  6. Focus Keeper

                    This app is perfect for those who wish to improve their work habits and minimize distractions while maintaining focus on current tasks. Focus Keeper is based on the Pomodoro technique. This method utilizes timeboxing to ensure each task is complete.

                    This is more than a task list app. If you wish to understand how you work best, the app delivers a suite of tools that you can use to set up your workday. It tracks your hours, analyzes, checks interruptions, and much more. Some of the integrations of Focus Keeper are Trello, Asana, Todoist, Basecamp, Outlook, Google Keep, and many others.

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                    The app costs $2.99 a month for those who wish to access premium features. It is accessible on Linux, iOS, Android, web, macOS, and Windows.

                    Available on iOS and Android

                    7. Quire

                      This app is designed as a professional and personal to-do task list manager. The app has a very efficient and optimized design due to the developers’ philosophy on visual task management. It allows you to easily get updates and work with your teammates.

                      The app also allows users to customize and choose templates based on their preferences. It is easy to use, but it helps you get things done. The app is currently free.

                      Available on iOS and Android

                      8. Asana

                        This Kanban-style app is quite popular. It helps you visually organize your tasks. With this app, you can set deadlines, tasks, assignees, and visualize your workflow. It is quite popular and used by many people.

                        The app features a sleek clutter-free design and comes with several integrations. As a result, it can be adapted to a wide range of projects. The app costs $9.99 a month.

                        Available on iOS and Android

                        9. Toggl

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                          You can use this simple time tracker to help boost your team’s productivity. It works on different devices across several platforms, and it comes with numerous friendly reminders to ensure that you remember to keep it on. It usually sends you a report once you complete a task to help you make improvements next time.

                          The app is free and those who wish to access premium features pay $9 a month.

                          Available on iOS and Android

                          10. Omni Focus

                            This app is considered the gold standard of the to-do apps. Omni Focus delivers a huge number of features that can be used to sort, prioritize, and plan tasks. It features several ways to categorize tasks such as location, energy needed, and priority.

                            It is only available on Apple devices and it costs $39.99 for the standard package.

                            Available on iOS

                            Summary

                            All the apps above are great for boosting productivity. However, you will need to pick one that best suits your needs. Try a number of them out before you decide to settle on one.

                            More Tools for Productivity

                            Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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