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Stage 1: Lay the Foundation

Learning a language doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while, so it’s important to build a solid foundation of skills, tools, habits, and knowledge that will prepare you for the journey.

Stage 1 has three parts:

  • A) Setting Up Tools and Habits
  • B) Learning the Building Blocks
  • C) Jumpstarting your Comprehension

By the end of Stage 1, you will be ready to learn directly from native content.

Stage 1A: Setting Up Tools and Habits

As noted in Stage 0, there are three core activities that we use throughout the entire learning process: active immersion, passive listening, and active study.

Since these are daily activities, it’s important to integrate them into your routine. Stage 1A is focused on setting up the tools and habits to support these daily exercises.

By the end of Stage 1A, you should have Anki set up and you should be immersing with Target Language (TL) content.

Stage 1B: Learning the Building Blocks

Each language has its own sounds and writing system. Even languages with a shared writing system have different pronunciations and phonetic rules. Before jumping into learning vocabulary you need to understand the sounds and writing systems of your TL.

Learning the sounds of your TL will help with listening comprehension, but more importantly, it is a prerequisite for learning vocabulary. It’s much easier to learn words if you know what they sound like.

Meanwhile, learning the writing system allows you to build your reading ability and associate those sounds with text.

In general, if your native language (NL) and TL are similar (for example, English and Spanish), this substage will only take a few minutes. If the languages are vastly different (for example, English and Japanese), this substage can take a few months.

The goal of Stage 1B is not to understand these concepts perfectly: just aim for general awareness.

By the end of Stage 1B, you should be aware of the phonetics of your TL and should have started or completed studying the writing system. For languages with vastly different writing systems than your NL, you should have set up a daily habit of studying the writing system.

Stage 1C: Jumpstarting Your Comprehension

So far your TL has been incomprehensible. In Stage 1C, your focus will shift to learning the most common vocabulary and grammar of your TL to build up your comprehension.

As you learn more grammar and vocabulary, you’ll start understanding more of your immersion content. By the time you finish with the 1,500 most common words, you should be able to recognize at least one word in almost every sentence you read or hear.

By the end of Stage 1C, you should be studying grammar and vocabulary on a daily basis.

Graduating to Stage 2

You are ready for Stage 2 when you are engaging with your TL every day and have solidified all the habits outlined above.

You should be comfortable watching media you don't understand. You can still look up individual words to help you follow the story, but you should rarely be translating entire sentences.

You should also be regularly studying vocabulary. You don't need to have finished the first 1,500 words, but you should be pretty far along.

See you in Stage 2.

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