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Active Immersion

Active immersion means paying full attention to the content that you are consuming, whether that is listening to audio, watching audiovisual media, or reading written material.

Active immersion is THE most important part of language acquisition.

When you first start immersing, your brain will discard most of the information because it doesn’t think that information is important. Focusing intently on target language (TL) content signals to the brain that it needs to start paying attention.

It may feel odd and unproductive to spend time watching TV in your TL. Rest assured: it’s not a guilty pleasure. It is where language acquisition happens. Even when something is largely incomprehensible, your brain is hard at work, looking for patterns, testing hypotheses, and building your internal language machine.

It is critical to find content that appeals to you. Compelling content will draw you in and keep you engaged. You will be able to spend longer stretches of time immersing, and crucially, it will keep you coming back again and again—long enough to learn the language. If you get bored with something, then let it go and move on to something more exciting.

Each stage of the roadmap prioritizes different immersion activities that develop specific skills. We will provide guidelines at each stage on the recommended quantity and type of immersion.

Finding Content

When searching for TL content, start with the same places you already consume native language (NL) content. Try to replace your NL consumption with TL consumption.

Netflix and Other Streaming Sites

Try out various genres of movies and serial shows to get a sense for what you might like.

YouTube

Whether it’s cooking, knitting, mountain biking, lock-picking, travel diaries, or any other topic of interest—YouTube almost certainly has a wealth of content for you in your TL.

Other Platforms

For some languages, there will be other platforms and products that provide a good source of content: you should be able to find them with a quick Google search.

Tools

Language Learning With Netflix (Chrome Extension)

This shows both the TL subtitles and your NL subtitles at the same time. It allows you to pause automatically on every subtitle segment, as well as to blur the NL subtitles so that they only show if you need them. It also includes a built-in dictionary that you can use with the subtitles on the fly.

Dedicated TL YouTube Account

To help break away from your NL, you can create a YouTube account that you only use in the TL.

Set your location to a country that uses the TL, and change the default language for the account to your TL. This will cause YouTube’s algorithm to prioritize content in your TL.

On the home page, teach YouTube to not show you content in your NL by clicking “Not interested” or “Do not recommend this channel” on videos that are not in your TL.

Dedicated TL Immersion Device

If you find yourself easily distracted by NL email, NL social media accounts, and other NL habits, you may want to try having a tablet or other device that is only used for spending time in your TL.

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