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2C: Master a Domain

To graduate from Stage 2C to Stage 3A, you should have level 5 comprehension in a domain. Improving from level 4 to level 5 is a challenge that requires a few changes in strategy. We’ve already discussed the first change: narrowing focus to a single domain.

There are two more strategy changes we recommend:

  1. Make intensive immersion more intensive.
  2. Drop all supports from your free-flow immersion

Thoroughly Intensive

Right now, you should be at level 4 comprehension in your first domain, meaning you can follow the story of your immersion content. Level 4 is good enough for enjoying immersion; you don't need to understand every word to enjoy a story. However, to achieve level 5 comprehension, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard.

In Stage 2A, we advised you not to spend more than 10 seconds looking up each word because it’s most efficient to focus on words your brain is ready for. Now that you’re trying to bridge the gap to level 5, it's worth spending up to 30 seconds trying to understand any unknown words and phrases you come across. It’s helpful to create Anki cards for nearly all of these as well.

If you find these lookups too disruptive while you’re immersing, then save the sentences and look up the unknown words and phrases at the end of your immersion time.

Idioms, expressions, and cultural or historical references are more difficult to look up than regular words. You usually won't be able to find them in a dictionary. If you think you’ve come across one of these idioms or references, it's worth spending up to a full 60 seconds trying to understand it through Google. If you figure it out, it’s worth making an Anki card as well.

If you still can’t figure something out after 60 seconds of searching, it’s best to just drop it. Some references require reading an entire Wikipedia article or blog post to fully understand. Others may be too obscure to easily track down. It's not worth pursuing these unless you find them personally interesting.

Unsupported Free-Flow

At this stage, the purpose of free-flow is to increase your listening ability. Your goal by the end of Stage 2C is level 5 comprehension of full native content without subtitles or lookups.

By now, your reading comprehension is likely much better than your listening comprehension. To improve your listening ability, you should remove subtitles from your free-flow immersion so that your brain is forced to develop listening ability.

This is also the perfect time to start listening to pure audio (podcasts, interviews, etc). Your comprehension should be high enough to stay interested and engaged, even without any visual context.

Relistening also becomes very powerful at this stage. If you relisten to the content that you sentence mine from, you will hear your Anki vocabulary immediately after learning it, which will help solidify it in your mind.

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