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What is an effective immersion method?

  Tags: Immersion
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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futurianus
Senior Member
Korea, South
starlightonclou
Joined 3244 days ago

125 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: Korean*

 
 Message 1 of 19
02 June 2012 at 7:58pm | IP Logged 
---There is no human language that a human being cannot learn---
---Panglots must be baptized in many waters----

What is an effective immersion method?

I had just put a post(ON BENNY LEWIS AND TRANSLINGUALISM) in the heated thread on Benny Lewis in which I had commented on travel and language learning in immersion environment. There, tmp011007 had also brought up the issue of an effective immersion method, to which I had wanted to ask him about his views on it, but the thread was already closed.

Even as immersion method had been my primary way of dabbling in different languages for quite a long period of time in the past and as I feel that it is a very important topic, I would like to create a thread to discuss it more fully, starting with the topic of learning a local language through immersion while traveling. I might also discuss about simulating immersion environment for effective acquiring of a new language right from your home without having to travel to another country. Let me first start this thread while the topic is fresh in my mind and my interest level is high and see how this thread will go.

In immersion situation, we can learn the target language much faster.
There can be different types of immersion.

You can be within the target language country for either travel, work, study or living.
You may not be within that country, but you might want to put yourself into a little subcultural or subgroup immersion ghetto, or create your own version of immersion ambiance to aid with your language learning without traveling to other country.

Let me first talk about my experiences of and attempt to take advantage of immersion through traveling.

I may have to sometimes coarsely express myself, skip much explanations, somewhat disorganized with my delineations and ramblings, not correct misspellings and typos to keep my time for writing short.

-----------------

I had traveled to about 80 countries and had lived in some of them for a prolonged time.
In most of my travels, I had tried to communicate in the local languages as much as possible.
My primary objective was to experience the places and peoples and learning language was something which I pursued as a means to more deeply experience them.


Through these, I had experienced the following:

For a language which is very different from the languages that you already know,
--Within one week, you will be able to handle several most basic things for moving around, eating and buying things.
Be accustomed to 20-40 words, understanding 0-1% of TV news.
--After a month, you will be able to carry on small talks on several very basic topics for ten to twenty minutes, with much stoppages and looking for words. Be accustomed to 150-200 active words and 400-500 passive words, understanding 5-10% of TV news. [You forget much of what you have learned after leaving the country and it is difficult to resurrect much of it later.] [Beginner's or pre-intermediate level]
--After three months, you will be able to carry on non-interrupted conversations for a prolonged time, talking on much broad spectrum of topics using much more vocabulary, without having to search for words too much. Be accustomed to 300-500 active words and 1000-1500 passive words, understanding 30-40% of TV news. [There are exceptions. You will also likely to forget much of what you have learned, but it seems that it becomes possible to resurrect a significant portion of it later, when you had invested this much time and effort to learn it.] [pre-intermediate or intermediate level]


For a language which is closely related to the language that you already know,
you will be quite functional in the new language after three months.
[1000-3000 active words and 3000-20000 passive words, understanding 70-95% of TV news. Most of it can be reactivated easily later] [intermediate level]

--------------


Steps that I took:
---Simplify, Simplify, Simplify---
---Learn only what you will use. Do not learn what you will not use---

I will first buy a hand carriable dictionary(a big one too if I will study it more seriously), a simple conversation book, a simple grammar book as soon as I arrive at the country either from the airport or a local bookstore. I might also buy a local newspaper, a magazine or books for kids or cartoon comics for getting into native content right away.
--usually I did not study any of the languages prior to arrival due to time constraints.

I will do the following:
--Spend first few days(2-8 days) skimming through the basic conversation and basic grammar books really quickly. Do not do any traveling at this time.
--Fold a piece of blank paper several times so that it will become small enough to be put into your pocket. This is my crucial aid to learning the local language, a mini-dictionary that I can quickly take out and use and review throughout the travel.
--Write very basic necessary words. 20-50.
--Increase the list bit by bit to 70, 100, 150, 200....

--Go out and use the very basic words and expressions till you become so used to using them, as to not need to refer to the mini-dictionary all the time.
--Use one word or simple short phrases for communication.
--Take out the word list paper from the pocket and check the words that you need to use or remember. Do this as often as you need or want.
--As you become very familiar and used to using those basic words, increase more words to the list.

If I will stay in the country for more than 10 days or so and want to more seriously grapple with the local language,
--buy another bigger dictionary
--use it to access the contents in local newspaper, magazine or books
--find and create as much opportunities as possible to speak with the local people

--From time to time, take a break from traveling and just concentrate on languages for 2-10 days.
--Study everyday, throughout the day. Carry the small dictionary always to check and study on the words that are not in the mini-dictionary.
--Do not spend too much time with grammar. Check on the grammar book from time to time for quick review only.
--Do not be too concerned about grammar or accent. Concentrate on communicating with people, getting your meaning across to them.
--Try to not use English as much as possible, but speak in the local language as much as possible.

----------------
---Be Like a Child Again--

--Start with basic core words, mostly words and few phrases.
--Do not try to memorize non-core words. I may read native contents, but will not try to memorize any non-core words.
--Add words that you need or want to be able to say.
--Increase slowly bit by bit.

--Start to talk in words and phrases. Do not worry about putting ideas in sentences at the beginning. Do not be concerned about grammatical correctness. You need to get around the country in the target language and you are in a survival mode. Utilize words and phrases with a lot of body languages.
--After becoming comfortable with your survival mode base core vocabulary, start to use simple sentences and longer phrases.
--Simplify, simplify, simplify. Do not try to learn and clutter yourself with any unnecessary words or expressions for several weeks. Concentrate only on the words and expressions that you need or want to express with the local people.

---------------------

---Refer to my thread on Language as Habit---

Quote:

Acquiring a language is developing a set of new habits

--Studying a language is different than studying mathematics, history, physics or any other subjects.
--We should not study a language in the manner we study other subjects.
--The core of language learning is to become accustomed to its contents. It is that of forming a set of new habits.
--This is why if you do not know a language, it is the most difficult thing in the world to learn, but once you have become accustomed to it, it becomes the easiest thing in the world for you and you wonder why such an easy thing was so difficult before and why you did not know it before.
--I would therefore rather spend three months in an immersion environment and acquire a new language through much experiences and habit forming interactions than spend several years studying about it in the manner of studying other subjects.
--This is why we need not only passion but also wisdom, or sound and effective method, to learn and acquire a new language.
--This is why there is such a wide gap in the results from the efforts put into foreign language learning. Some people might have put in ten years to learn a language and not have acquired a working conversational ability in that language, while someone who had spent just a month acquires a better working conversational ability in the same language. This is an over-simplified generalization of the multifaceted complex matter of language learning, but reflects and explains one crucially important aspect of it.
--Learning or acquiring foreign languages must incorporate certain aspects of immersion, whether by actually being in the target country or by creating certain elements of immersion through various learning methods and approaches.

--Learning a language is like learning to swim. You must get into the water to learn swimming. Immersion is the water, the pool. It is up to you what you want to do with it.
--You can live in a foreign country for many years and not put yourself into the water.
--Thus there is a need to develop effective immersion learning method and strategy.
--Immersion experiences will try all your theories, conceptions and misconceptions about how to learn a language in the fire of cold reality. You will come out with a much more realistic sense of what you are made of and what methods and approaches are actually working or not working for you.
--It is this animalistic sense of the reality of language learning which will guide you even when you are learning languages in your very home.



--Transporting of the Immersion Environment to Your Home---

--Now, transporting certain elements of immersion into acquiring a foreign language from your hometown or non-target language country, we can simulate the immersion environment to maximize our efforts at mastering it.


--What are those elements of immersion environment, then, which are conducive to habituating us to a new language?
--How can we bring them into our efforts to learn languages without traveling to other countries?




Edited by futurianus on 02 June 2012 at 10:35pm

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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
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4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 2 of 19
02 June 2012 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
futurianus wrote:

--What are those elements of immersion environment, then, which are conducive to habituating us to a new language?
--How can we bring them into our efforts to learn languages without traveling to other countries?


Primarily, lots of audio input. Secondarily, books and online contact with native speakers. AJATT has a fair overview of one way to do an immersion environment.

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lingoleng
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Germany
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 Message 3 of 19
02 June 2012 at 8:19pm | IP Logged 
Sorry, but what is an "animalistic sense of the reality of language learning" ?
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futurianus
Senior Member
Korea, South
starlightonclou
Joined 3244 days ago

125 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: Korean*

 
 Message 4 of 19
02 June 2012 at 9:24pm | IP Logged 
lingoleng wrote:
Sorry, but what is an "animalistic sense of the reality of language learning" ?

By "animalistic sense of the reality of language learning", I tried to convey an idea of "unadulterated instinctual perception of and feeling about the crude reality of language learning."
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futurianus
Senior Member
Korea, South
starlightonclou
Joined 3244 days ago

125 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: Korean*

 
 Message 5 of 19
03 June 2012 at 7:11am | IP Logged 
from Language as Habit
Quote:

This thread will put the focus on the habit formation.
The other thread will focus more
--on how one can maximize learning opportunities while being in a foreign country and
--on how one who cannot travel to other country can simulate and transport the elements of immersion environment, which are conducive to language acquisition, into one's methodologies and approaches for learning foreign languages right from one's home.

I feel that the two concepts must be somehow incorporated into our approach: habit and immersion. How can we incorporate the elements of immersion and how can we change the manner of our learning endeavor from 'study' to habit formation?

Thus these two threads, though fittingly separated, will be mutually informing each other.

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futurianus
Senior Member
Korea, South
starlightonclou
Joined 3244 days ago

125 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: Korean*

 
 Message 6 of 19
03 June 2012 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
futurianus wrote:

--What are those elements of immersion environment, then, which are conducive to habituating us to a new language?
--How can we bring them into our efforts to learn languages without traveling to other countries?


Primarily, lots of audio input. Secondarily, books and online contact with native speakers. AJATT has a fair overview of one way to do an immersion environment.

Very good points.
I have just checked AJATT and read a couple of quite refreshingly insightful articles there.
If you are familiar with AJATT, could you explain some of its main strategies for creating immersion environment in your home.
There seem to be so many articles and it is somewhat difficult to have a summary understanding concerning it.
I see that the title of the blog is All Japanese All the Time, itself reflecting an immersive approach to learning Japanese.

I used to watch a lot of Japanese dramas and TV news when I was self-learning Japanese from home.
Good thing about learning Japanese is that there are tons of fine cultural contents to enjoy and consume.
Some Korean kids have claimed that they have become fluent in Japanese just from watching hundreds of Japanese anime during the Summer vacation.

Internet could indeed provide even more numerous and better quality online contact with the native speakers than being in the target country offline.





Edited by futurianus on 03 June 2012 at 4:53pm

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Wulfgar
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United States
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 Message 7 of 19
04 June 2012 at 9:37am | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
AJATT has a fair overview of one way to do an immersion environment.

Following Katz advice on immersion is like using a sex manual written by a priest.
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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4674 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 8 of 19
04 June 2012 at 10:15am | IP Logged 
Wulfgar wrote:
Volte wrote:
AJATT has a fair overview of one way to do an immersion environment.

Following Katz advice on immersion is like using a sex manual written by a priest.


One in a non-celibate tradition then, I suppose. I disagree with Katz in many ways, but nonetheless, I've found some of his posts on immersion environments useful when taken with some salt.

The bit I found most useful was the idea that people can live in little expat bubbles, filling their house and environment with things in their most familiar language - and that there's no reason not to use this idea to your own advantage, by filling your environment with things in the language(s) you want to learn better.

Watching a movie in your L2 isn't the best use of your language learning time - but it's better than watching a movie in your L1. The same goes for websurfing, music, etc.

His advice doesn't scale well to more than one language at a time, and it's not how I'd recommend learning a language: but the idea of surrounding yourself with your target language(s) during time you wouldn't be studying anyway is brilliant.

Some AJATT links:

Don't plan your day, plan your environment: set up your environment so that you have your target language all around you. Same idea at How To Do Immersion: A Day In The Life of Khatzumoto.

The immersion environment...a week should totally do: consider having only things in your target language around, and change one category of things at a time (music, books, etc) so it's not too much shock all at once.

What the immersion environment does for you.
katz[/URL wrote:

Finally (getting to the main point of this post), one thing I am noticing in the Chinese Project is that the environment shapes the way you learn the language. Simply put, it’s a usage thing. It’s the Pareto principle at work — in any language, some words and phrases get more usage than others. So, like, maybe 20% of the words and phrases get used like 80% of the time or whatever (do you like my fuzzy statistics?). This means that the more Chinese you read and hear, the more the same things keep popping up over and over and over again: even if you don’t know what they mean, you eventually HAVE to find out because you KEEP hearing them; they force themselves to your attention. Things like “根本” as in “你根本不知道・・・”, things like “別作夢了!”. I wouldn’t have realized the importance of these words/phrases if I were just looking up random sentences. I am learning them and learning to use them because I hear/read native users of Chinese (in my Chinese immersion environment) use them all the time. As a result, my Chinese will become more native-like — I am not going to learn every word in the Chinese language, just like I don’t know every word in the English language, but I am going to learn the words that matter and I am going to use them the way Chinese people use them — I won’t be falling into that non-native trap of using words that have the right meaning but that are inappropriate because they are either too obscure and formal, or too colloquial and informal, or carry a bad connotation in the situation at hand. This won’t be a conscious or effortful thing, it will be the natural and effortless result of being surrounded by Chinese-like Chinese.




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