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Take the Plunge!

It’s generally understood that the more you’re surrounded by a language, the faster and more easily you can learn it. If you find yourself living someplace where your target language is dominant, you’re automatically immersed, by everything from restaurant menus, advertisements, and store clerks, just to start.

But if you’re not in such helpful circumstances, there are still ways to increase your exposure to your target language. Using favorite TV shows and movies is one example, particularly for working on listening skills.

Another type of immersion you can do is to label everything in your life. The easiest way to do this is with sticky notes. You can label absolutely everything in your home. Go room by room (label the rooms themselves as well) and put sticky notes on everything you see.

Of course, sticky notes don’t stay in place forever. Eventually, they fall off. This may seem like a drawback, but just the opposite is true. Every time a sticky note falls off, replace it, but when you create the new label, increase the information. For example, if the original label said, “couch,” the new one might say, “leather couch” or “plaid couch.” When the sticky note falls off again, increase the information level again. “My leather couch is very comfortable.” “That plaid couch is hideous.” There is no limit to what you can create, all of it concrete and personally optimal for you and your life.

There’s also nothing that says that you have to start with simple individual words. If you’re already to the point of making sentences, you can certainly start there and make increasingly complex sentences. The idea is to surround yourself with the terms that are most common and most useful in your life.

Other ways to immerse yourself further in your target language:

  • put your phone language in the language you are learning
  • talk to (or argue with!) yourself
  • practice talking to a professional like a doctor, plumber, or deli worker
  • listen to music—what are the most popular songs in a country where your target language is spoken?

Saturating yourself in your target language is one of the most effective ways to improve your skills, and can also be a fun and creative way to do so!

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