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Immersion doesn’t seem to work. Why?

  Tags: Immersion | Korean
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
36 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 35  Next >>
slucido
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 Message 25 of 36
20 January 2011 at 1:41pm | IP Logged 
Immersion is NOT the TV/DVD method. This is part of it.

If you want to apply DIY ALG techniques, you can follow the Antonio Graceffo advice. You can check here:

http://l2mastery.com/featured-articles/alg-approach-to-self- study


Antonio Graceffo wrote:


....

Some people have written in and asked if they could approximate the ALG experience by watching tons and tons of hours of TV in Japanese or Chinese or another foreign language. The answer is yes, BUT only if you already have a sufficient basis to understand 55-70% of what you are hearing. If you are a complete beginner, it won’t work. The TV would just become more noise.

If you are a beginning student, one way of “artificially” increasing your comprehension level is to first watch a similar movie or show in English. This is what we often did while I was studying to be a translator. We would read a current news story in several international newspapers and compare them. Or, we would watch a movie or TV show in English, and then watch it in the target language. I do this in Taiwan, too. I watch a lot of Disney movies, like “Mulan,” “The Incredibles,” or “Kung Fu Panda” in English and then in Chinese. Over a period of months, I go back and forth between English and Chinese, watching them over and over again.

The trick is to choose few enough materials that you get constructive levels of repetition. If you choose too few, you wind up hearing the same story too frequently. You will get bored and tune out. Your brain will stop “guessing.” And when you stop guessing, you stop learning. If you choose too many materials, then it will take too long before they repeat. So, you must find a balance. You be the judge. After you embark on a disciplined program of listening on a regular schedule, then you can occasionally shake things up by throwing a new movie or TV show into the mix.

Just as an unscientific rule of thumb, depending upon how many hours you are listening per day, maybe you want to repeat a particular movie once per month.

.....


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starrye
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 Message 26 of 36
20 January 2011 at 3:12pm | IP Logged 
Personally, I think that immersion and learning from context can be very effective-- if you're already at an intermediate or advanced level.... For a beginner starting from scratch, especially if it's your first foreign language, and particularly if it's one that's very different from your native language.... trying to learn this way is unnecessarily painful and counterproductive I think, and it didn't work for me either. The reason is simple: How are you supposed to learn from context if you don't have any context in the first place?? It's like being a detective and trying to solve a crime without any clues. Or trying to work out an algebra problem without knowing how to add or subtract first. It's a catch 22.

Sure, you can learn a number of basic nouns and adjectives etc. through immersion only, but once you start getting into anything beyond a basic declarative statement, things get unnecessarily difficult (unless, I suppose, you have a native speaker holding your hand every step of the way, demonstrating and acting things out as you go-- but not everyone has that benefit). This is one of the most common complaints I hear about Rosetta Stone. Everything is all well and good, up until you start seeing more complex concepts, and things like conjugations, then it becomes very difficult to try and deduce what's going on. This was my experience with Japanese as well, and I imagine it might be similar for those studying Korean. My native language is English, and since Japanese has such different grammar structure, I have found grammar explanations to be extremely helpful and indispensable.

Once you build up some elementary vocabulary and some basic understanding of sentence structure, THEN it's possible to start learning things from context. I found that this works if, and only if, you have some kind of foundation first. In order to be able to guess the meaning of a word in a sentence, you need to be able to recognize at least some of the other surrounding words, and have some inkling of what type of sentence pattern it probably is (a question, a command, a statement, etc). For example, if you are reading a paragraph about washing laundry. You can deduce words like "soap" and "wash", if you already know things like "clothes" and "dirty", etc. For closely related languages, this may be possible through recognizing cognates and similar patterns. But if you have no clues to go by, and nothing similar to compare it to, you'll probably just get frustrated. All of this frustration could be avoided, if you spent a little time every day flipping through an elementary grammar or text book. Of course text books aren't everything, especially as you move to more advanced material, but when you're just starting out from scratch in a very unfamiliar language, it's worth it in my opinion.

I think this is especially true of languages that use a foreign script (such as kanji or hangul), where simply trying to read the script can be an overwhelming enough task for a beginner. Trying to understand the script, the vocab, the grammar, and things like politeness levels all at once, starting from scratch, and can be slow and painful indeed.

Edited by starrye on 21 January 2011 at 2:05am

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Solfrid Cristin
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 Message 27 of 36
20 January 2011 at 4:13pm | IP Logged 
I am not sure I am willing to follow what seems to be the general consensus here, that you must know basic grammar and structure before you can learn a language through immersion. I have twice been dumped in a total immersion situation. In Spain at 11, and in France at 14. Both cases had the following similarities.

- I knew next to nothing before I came (15 words of Spanish, about 100 in French).
- I had learned no grammar before going.
- I did not study any grammar while I was there.
- I had no specific "language classes" for me.
- I listened a lot - to speech, to TV, to classes in TL only, with no explanation.
- I talked to people, but had next to no corrections from them (most of the people I talked to were other kids, or people with very little formal training).
- I learned enough of the languages to be able to function after 3-4 weeks.
- I was fluent in 6 months.

It has to be said that when I came back to Spain at the age of 18, it took me 3 months to regain a functional Spanish and another 3 months to be next to fluent, so I guess what comes easily, goes easily.

Now I do agree, that if you plan on learning a language basically by wathcing TV, particularly as an adult, you will need to study some grammar, and you need a basic vocabulary. However, as my examples show, you can perfectly well learn a language without adding any elements of formal training or notions of grammar, and just listen and try to speak what you hear.
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Arekkusu
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 Message 28 of 36
20 January 2011 at 4:47pm | IP Logged 
There is a huge difference between immersion in the real world, with real people, and just watching TV passively. We're talking apples and oranges.

Moreoever, learning Spanish, where new words can be learned from deduction alone, is not at all the same as learning Korean.
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Solfrid Cristin
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 Message 29 of 36
20 January 2011 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
There is a huge difference between immersion in the real world, with real people, and just watching TV passively. We're talking apples and oranges.

Moreoever, learning Spanish, where new words can be learned from deduction alone, is not at all the same as learning Korean.


I agree with both of your points, but if you look at the discussion here, it seems like the general view is that you need masses of grammar and all sorts of training to learn a language, and that is only half the truth.
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starrye
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 Message 30 of 36
20 January 2011 at 4:54pm | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
I am not sure I am willing to follow what seems to be the general consensus here, that you must know basic grammar and structure before you can learn a language through immersion.


I'm not sure that people are necessarily saying that's the case with all language pairs, or all situations. But, for example, a native English speaker learning an East Asian language like Korean from scratch, at home, from immersion only with tv and books. Sure, someone somewhere can probably say they've done it... but that sounds incredibility painful to me. I personally think grammar explanation would go a long way in this case, and is worth the effort.
That all said, I'm not saying it's better to sit and drill nothing but huge grammar charts all day long either.

Edited by starrye on 20 January 2011 at 4:57pm

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Arekkusu
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 Message 31 of 36
20 January 2011 at 5:09pm | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
Arekkusu wrote:
There is a huge difference between immersion in the real world, with real people, and just watching TV passively. We're talking apples and oranges.

Moreoever, learning Spanish, where new words can be learned from deduction alone, is not at all the same as learning Korean.


I agree with both of your points, but if you look at the discussion here, it seems like the general view is that you need masses of grammar and all sorts of training to learn a language, and that is only half the truth.

Agreed. I'm all for using the language in the real world, with real people, as we did for millenia before written language even existed. However, in the absence of other speakers, intentional study speeds things up.
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ReneeMona
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 Message 32 of 36
20 January 2011 at 5:31pm | IP Logged 
I would agree that learning a language from scratch through immersion in native materials would take an unnecessarily long time. I learnt English, a language closely related to my native one, from nothing but immersion for a good ten years and at the end of those I was still only at basic fluency level. I wasn't actively trying to learn which may have affected my progress, but I was exposed to a couple of hours of native material every day and I was also at an age where it's supposedly easy to pick up a language.

I recognise the benefit of immersion because it gives you an instinctive feel for grammar and the words become their meaning instead of their translation but to expose oneself to a completely unrelated language without any preparation strikes me as very counter-productive. I'm not surprised the OP got nowhere in six months.

At the same time, I also know from my experiences with learning languages in high school that endlessly learning vocabulary and doing grammar exercises gets you nowhere either. That's why I try to combine the two in my own studying. I know that every word I memorise and every grammatical structure I learn, I would eventually have picked up through immersion as well but it would have taken me much longer and I don't have the patience to wait another ten years before I can have a real conversation.

Edited by ReneeMona on 20 January 2011 at 7:32pm



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