0A: Activities Explained

The Refold method is made up of three main activities:

  1. Active immersion: When you pay full attention to your immersion.
  2. Passive listening: When you listen to immersion throughout the day.
  3. Active study: When you study vocabulary and grammar.

Each plays an important role in the language acquisition process.

Active Immersion

Active immersion is when you pay full attention to a piece of content in your target language (TL), whether that's watching a TV show, reading a book, or listening to a podcast.

Active immersion is the most important activity in the language acquisition process. This is where most of the acquisition happens. When you’re paying full attention to a piece of content, your brain is hard at work deconstructing the language.

There are two types of active immersion: intensive and free-flow.

Intensive Immersion

Intensive immersion is when you use a dictionary to try to understand your immersion content. As you immerse, you look up each unknown word and try to piece together the meaning of each sentence. This process is great for learning new vocabulary and building comprehension.

The challenge with intensive immersion is that it takes a lot of effort. If it ever feels like a burden, it's best to switch to free-flow to avoid burning out.

Free-Flow Immersion

Free-flow immersion is when you pay full attention to a piece of content, but you avoid interrupting your immersion with lookups. The goal is to get into the flow of immersing. You can still do the occasional lookup if a word is bothering you, but avoid stopping frequently.

Free-flow helps make comprehension more automatic and effortless.

The challenge with free-flow is that you will understand much less than with intensive. As adults, the sensation of not understanding can be uncomfortable, but it's a necessary part of the learning process. There's no way around it. It's best to embrace this discomfort.


Some people prefer intensive while others prefer free-flow. However, both are important parts of the acquisition process. You should do more of the one you prefer, but make sure you do some of each.

Intensive immersion tends to be more mentally tiring than free-flow, so it’s best to do it first when you still have energy.

Passive Listening

Most people can't spend all day actively watching TV or reading. However, most of us have time in our day where we can listen to our TL.

Passive listening is when you pay partial attention to audio. You can passively listen to audio in the car on the way to work, or in your kitchen while you cook. Driving and household chores don't require much mental energy, so you can listen to your TL while doing these activities.

Passive listening is a great way to increase your total amount of immersion time. It's not as effective as active immersion, but it still helps a lot.

Not all passive listening is equal. The more attention you pay while listening, the more benefit you'll get. Choose passive listening content that is interesting to you so you can stay engaged.

One way to make passive listening more interesting is to relisten to content you've already actively immersed with. Because you already know the story, it will be more comprehensible and more interesting to you. Relistening also gives your brain another chance to acquire things you missed on your first watch.

Active Study

Refold is an immersion-based learning method but that doesn't mean we only recommend immersion. Active study is when you spend time learning about your TL to make your immersion more comprehensible.

Acquisition happens when you understand the meaning of sentences in your immersion content. Active study gives your brain extra information that it can use to decode the meaning of those sentences.

There are four parts of each language to study:

  1. Phonetics
  2. Writing system
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Grammar

For most languages, phonetics and the writing system take less than a week to learn, but vocabulary and grammar study continue throughout the acquisition process.

In Stage 1, we’ll explain how to get started with all four aspects of active study.


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