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0A: What is Immersion Learning?

Most language teachers instruct you to memorize words and grammar and then combine them to construct sentences. This way of learning is called the "skill-building" approach.

Skill-building is the right choice if you need to speak quickly. If you are planning to travel to another country soon and need to be able to speak, we recommend using Benny Lewis’s Language Hacking courses. Benny Lewis is a master of the skill-building approach.

However, the skill-building approach doesn't work for attaining fluency. When speaking fluently, you don't have time to conjugate verbs and construct sentences. You need the right words to pop into your head the first time.

Fluency requires an instinct for the language; the same instinct you have in your native language (NL). You probably don’t know the grammar rules of your NL. You just speak and the words come naturally. This instinct is the result of language “acquisition”. Once you’ve acquired a language, you will be able to speak the language without thinking.

Immersion is the tool we use to acquire language. Immersion simply means exposing yourself to the language by watching TV, reading books, and browsing the internet.

How Does Acquisition Work?

"We all acquire language in the same way: by understanding messages.

–Stephen Krashen

Learning the definition of a word is just the first step in the process of acquiring it. To acquire an instinct for how a word is used, you need to see and understand it hundreds of times in hundreds of different situations.

Through immersion, you expose yourself to those situations. Each time you see the word and understand it, you train your instinct. Eventually, your instinct becomes so strong that you will intuitively know how to use the word.

Time and Effort

Acquisition takes a lot of time, but that time doesn’t need to feel like work. The key to staying motivated is to make your immersion fun.

You can watch TV shows, YouTube, and TikTok videos. You can read tweets, blog posts, or books. Any media you enjoy in your NL you can also enjoy in your target language (TL).

The average American spends 11 hours per day watching TV, streaming videos, and browsing social media. The more media time you convert to your TL, the faster you will become fluent.

The actual time it takes varies depending on the language you’re learning and many other personal factors, but the most important piece is to spend a lot of time with the language. As long as you consistently spend time with your TL every day, you will eventually acquire it.

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