3A: Adopt A Language Parent
Most immersion learners want to speak like a native, but every native speaks differently. How do you “sound native” if every native sounds different?
Instead of trying to "sound native", it's helpful to choose a specific native speaker to sound like. This person is your "language parent".
When evaluating options for potential language parents, keep the following questions in mind:
- Do you want to sound like this person?
- Does this person have the right kind of content?
The goal of adopting a parent is to copy how they speak. You will end up sounding a lot like your parent, so you should choose someone that speaks the way you want to speak.
Your parent should be the same gender and around the same age as you. If you are a 16-year old girl, you probably don't want to sound like a 75-year old man.
You should also pick someone whose personality you like. You're going to spend a lot of time listening to your parent so you need to enjoy their content.
Your parent needs to have a lot of unscripted and unedited content (AKA raw content). It's important to find raw content because you need to hear how your parent normally speaks.
The style of language used in scripted and edited content is different from natural speech. If you try to copy the speech in this content then you will sound like a cartoon character or TV personality, not like a real person.
Try to find a parent with 100 hours of raw content. You want to hear their speaking style in many different situations. Livestreamers, podcasters, and talk show hosts are good choices for parents because they have a lot of raw content.
Some of their content should be video, not just audio. Video content allows you to see their body language and facial expressions, which are important aspects of communication.
If you can't find a single person that meets all of the criteria above, you can choose two, but we don't recommend more than that.
To fully adopt a parent you need to:
- Choose a parent.
- Listen to them a lot.
- Practice speaking like them.
We all naturally imitate the people we spend a lot of time with. If you listen to your parent a lot, you will naturally start to imitate them. You can speed up this process by intentionally copying them in a practice called “shadowing. We'll explain how to shadow your parent in Stage 3B.
When you first start immersing with your parent, your comprehension will likely drop because your parent will speak differently than the domain you're used to. To quickly build comprehension, we recommend spending 50% of your active immersion and 100% of your passive listening with your parent. You should also sentence mine their content.
The more time you spend with your parent, the faster you’ll get to level 5 comprehension, and the sooner you will start to imitate them.