As you’ve heard many times before, you have to practice what you learn; otherwise, there’s little point in learning it at all. However, how can you practice when you have a packed schedule and you’re making the most of your free time? (You already review vocabulary during your daily commute, right?)
Here are some simple, time-efficient tips that you can begin using today to immerse yourself in a target language.
5 Simple Tips to Immerse Yourself in Your Target Language
Change the language of your phone/browser/computer/TV (etc.)
Before you do this, you have to be really familiar with your device’s menu system so that you’ll still be able to use your phone in your target language. If you try this idea, I can assure you that you’ll learn new words quickly without even noticing.
For example, for iPhone, go to Settings->General->International->Language
For Android, go to Settings->Language & Keyboard->Select language
For Windows, it’s not always possible (it depends on your version), but here are Microsoft’s instructions.
For Mac, you need to go to the Apple menu->System Preferences->Language & Text
You can also change your browser language so that the sites you visit will appear in the language you’re studying (if the site has been translated, of course).
Lastly, you can change Google’s language so that you get search results in the language you’re studying. It’s very easy to do and will expand your horizons, giving you even better and more complete search results. After you search, click on the Settings icon -> Search settings -> Languages (see screenshot).
Listen to podcasts instead of the radio
Try to find podcasts in your target language. Instead of listening to the radio in your car, download a bunch of podcasts on topics that interest you.
Stop watching TV and movies in English
In order to make the most of your time, replace all your audiovisual products with target language products. The Internet makes this very easy: you can watch the news in every language and download television series and movies to watch on your smartphone or computer. And there’s always Youtube! It has something for everyone in every language. Search for topics that interest you in the language you’re learning. If necessary, use Google Translate to figure out what to search.
Stop reading English
Do you enjoy reading? Then try reading the language you’re learning! Use the Internet to read about topics that interest you. If you enjoy reading novels, search for some in the language you’re learning. There are some bilingual novels that provide the translated and original versions side-by-side. Some easy-to-read children’s books can also be enjoyed by adults (e.g. Harry Potter).
Stop thinking in English!
This may seem strange and a bit extreme, but one technique to try is to change the language of your “inner monologue.” For example, instead of thinking to yourself in English “I’m out of butter; I should buy some more”, think this phrase in the language you’re studying. This is a very effective technique; many polyglots use it (such as Benny or this Japanese learner). It’s difficult at first, but if you really make an effort to do this regularly, you’ll certainly improve. It’s almost the equivalent of having a conversation in your target language.
The goal of this article is to help you find every possible opportunity in your daily activities to practice your language skills. It’s possible to immerse yourself in a language without traveling or dedicating lots of time to language practice.
Which methods do you use to practice your language skills as much as possible?
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