3A: Activity Guide
The activities in Stage 3A are meant to prepare you for Stages 3B and 3C. You will start outputting, but the majority of your time will be spent on input in preparation for writing in 3B and speaking in 3C.
As noted in 3A: Starting Output, it's important to start some level of output to get the gears turning in your brain. For some people, output comes naturally. Others will need to dedicate time to practice.
If your TL uses a different keyboard layout or typing system then you’ll need to learn how to use it. We'll address learning these keyboard layouts in the language-specific guides.
Use a text-based chat application like HelloTalk, Tandem, or Discord to begin writing. Don't worry about trying to write perfectly and correctly. Don't look up words or conjugations as you write. The point of this exercise is to just start doing it.
We recommend outputting once per week for 30-60 minutes. You can do more if you like, but your time should still be much more heavily weighted towards input.
In Stage 2, you learned to comprehend the slice-of-life domain. Your first goal in Stage 3 is to learn to comprehend your second domain: everyday conversation.
Everyday conversation over text is different from speaking or literature. You will need to immerse in this domain to acquire the relevant vocabulary and grammar.
Spend time reading casual language: emails, Twitter, Instagram posts, YouTube comments, blog comments, forums, SMS messages, etc. Try to find public chatting websites/apps where native speakers talk to each other.
The language used in texting, chatrooms, and forums is casual, messy, and unstructured. It will take a bit of time to get used to. Sentence mine this content the same way you would a TV show or book.
If you don't enjoy public chats, reading blogs can be another good place to start. Blog posts tend to use more structured language than forums and chatrooms but they are more casual than literature.
So far, your input has come from thousands of different people. When you try to output, you will mix their various speaking styles which will sound pretty strange.
To make yourself sound more natural, pick a single person to imitate while speaking. This person is called your "language parent". We explain how to choose a good language parent in the next article.
In Stage 3B and 3C, you will imitate your language parent's pronunciation, word choice, and mannerisms. However, before you can imitate your parent you need to be able to fully understand your parent.
Spend 50% of your active immersion time watching and listening to your parent. Spend 100% of your passive listening time with your parent. By Stage 3C, you should have level 6 comprehension of your parent meaning you are able to fully understand them automatically without thinking.
If you want to be an active participant in a conversation, you need to be able to understand colloquial speech. Real-world conversation is messy, unscripted, and unstructured. People speak in incomplete sentences, backtrack, and go off on tangents.
One way to experience real-world conversation is to do a language exchange where each person only speaks in their NL. That way, you can practice hearing real-world conversation while getting the benefits of social interaction.
Street interviews and one-on-one interviews are also good places to start to understand conversation. Street interviews are unscripted, but they still have some structure because the interviewer typically asks the same series of questions to each interviewee. The audio of street interviews is usually messy which can help train your ear to focus on language and filter out noise. One-on-one interviews, meanwhile, are fully unscripted, but they are typically recorded with very clear audio.
Once you can understand both of those types of content, move on to messier conversations. Look for content with people yelling, mumbling, and talking over each other. Variety shows, reality shows, talk shows, and panel discussions are good examples of this type of content.
If you’ve been jumping between different dialects in your TL, now is the time to focus on a single one. Focusing on a single dialect will help you master a single speaking style instead of mixing different ones.
Once you have chosen a parent, make sure that the rest of your input matches their dialect.
By this point in your language journey, there are a lot of competing activities. Here is an example of what your day may look like:
- Anki first thing in the morning
- Passive listening to parent throughout the day
- 1 hour immersing with parent
- 30 minutes reading chat conversations
- 30 minutes listening to interviews
- Once per week, 30 minutes of writing
Feel free to continue watching TV shows or reading in your TL. By this point, your comprehension should be high enough that this activity becomes leisure.
Each person will have a different daily schedule depending on their immediate goals. If you are very focused on writing, then weight your immersion more towards reading conversations. If you are very focused on speaking, then weight your immersion more towards listening.
Move on to Stage 3B once you have level 5 comprehension of your language parent. Level 5 means you can fully understand them but it takes your full attention and effort.