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3B: Activate The Language

If you have level 5 comprehension of a domain, then you've already acquired large portions of your target language (TL). While immersing, there should be many words and sentences that you understand instantly and without effort.

The next step is to take that acquired language and learn to use it yourself. We call this process "activation". To activate language, you first need to figure out what you've acquired and what you haven't. Then you need to use that acquired language until it becomes as automatic as comprehension.

An added benefit of this process is that you will also identify the pieces of language you haven't yet acquired. Once identified, your brain will naturally start looking for the correct usage of these pieces in your immersion and you will acquire them more quickly.

Writing

As we noted in 3A: Start Writing, we recommend starting with writing instead of speaking because speaking is actually multiple skills mixed together.

Another reason we recommend writing is because you can't hide your mistakes. This makes it easier to get corrected and forces you to confront your errors which stops them from solidifying into bad habits.

For the same reasons, you should avoid using a dictionary or grammar lookups as you write. Using these resources hides your true ability.

Getting Corrected

Correction is key to figuring out which pieces of language you've acquired and which you haven't. Once you get confirmation that a piece of language is correct, you can confidently use it in output until it fully activates.

Once you become aware that a piece of language is incorrect, your brain will naturally look for the correct usage in your immersion, which accelerates the acquisition of that piece.

Self-Correction

The more you acquire, the stronger your intuition will be for what feels natural and correct. The stronger this intuition, the easier it will be to output and the more certain you will be about what is correct and what isn’t.

At level 5 comprehension, you will already be able to use a lot of your TL correctly. You’ll also be able to notice obvious mistakes and correct them yourself.

However, there will still be many situations that require a native perspective. When you aren't certain about what you've written, you'll need a native to tell you which parts are right and which parts are wrong.

Native Correction

Until you've fully developed the intuition for self-correction, it's important to get corrected by a native speaker.

When getting corrected by a native speaker, your natural tendency will be to try to memorize what they tell you. This is the wrong way to think about correction. Remember, the goal of correction is to help you notice mistakes, not fix them. Once you see the correct phrasing enough times in your immersion, your brain will naturally correct the mistake.

When a native speaker corrects you, trust their correction, but be wary of their explanation of why something is incorrect. Most native speakers are bad at explaining grammar rules because they never studied grammar. They learned their native language entirely through immersion.

Google Correction

If you don't have a native speaker available to you, you can use Google for corrections. If you write a sentence and aren’t sure if it's natural, you can search it on Google to see how common it is.

This works best for sentence fragments and short phrases. Google the fragment in quotes to see if anyone on the internet has written it before. If it's a naturally occurring phrase, there should be hundreds of thousands of results.

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