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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 January 13, 2020

        11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

        11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

        Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

        Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

        Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

        1. Lumosity

        This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

        Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.

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        Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

          2. Fit Brains Trainer

          This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.

          Free.

          Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

            3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

            Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

            First four games free, then $13 a month.

            cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

              4. Brain Fitness Pro

              The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.

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              Buy for $3.99.

              5. Happify

              If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

              Free to use.

              Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

                6. Clockwork Brain

                You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.

                Free.

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                Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

                  7. ReliefLink

                  Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

                  Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                    8. Eidetic

                    Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

                    Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                      9. Braingle

                      Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.

                      Free.

                      Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                        10. Not The Hole Story

                        If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.

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                        Free.

                        Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                          11. Personal Zen

                          This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.

                          Free.

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                            Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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