Have Conversations in the Language:
If possible, find a pen pal or someone who you can talk to in the language. A native speaker can teach you the social norms of the language that a textbook can’t, they can help you learn slang and colloquialisms that you otherwise wouldn’t understand. If you can’t find a native speaker, learning with someone else can give you an opportunity to learn faster through conversational practice. If you don’t know someone that already knows the language you want to learn then don’t give up! Talk to yourself, your pets, your plants in the language imagining a conversation, kids have vivid imaginations, and a large part of learning language is imagining scenarios that might occur or how you would respond to something that has happened. The same way you might imagine arguing with someone when your real-life response didn’t satisfy you, have that one-sided argument in the language you’re learning.
Resources for Finding a Practice Partner:
Italki - as low as $4/hr
Verbling - as low as $8/hr
Consume the Language through Media:
Part of an immersive experience is consuming the media the way that native speakers do. Watch television and movies in your target language, start with animated movies intended for children, Disney Plus has options to view their content in up to 16 languages. There is also a Netflix chrome extension called “Language Learning with Netflix” (this app is not by Netflix) that can be set to automatically pause after each scene, add flashcards directly into apps like Anki, and display closed captions in your native language and target language. In order to best use apps like this watch a scene without closed captions, attempt to translate what was said, watch it again with the captions to see whether you accurately understood the scene, add flashcards for new vocabulary words or phrases, and then move on to the next scene. Eventually, you should be able to watch a movie with or without closed captions in the intended language without needing to translate it into your own language and at that point, you are thinking in the language.
Since this kind of watching requires intense focus, use the Pomodoro studying technique to avoid exhaustion. This technique involves studying for 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between and a 15-minute break for every third break. This would mean that you study for 25-minutes, take a 5-minute break to walk around, grab a drink, go to the bathroom, or otherwise do something completely different than studying, go back to studying for 25-minutes with another 5-minute break and then study again for 25-minutes before taking a longer 15-minute break. During this 15-minute break take a walk or do something that engages your body but gives your mind a break to process. Repeat as necessary but remember that there is only so much your brain can learn in a day, in order to process these memories from short term recall to long term memory your brain needs rest.
You should also listen to podcasts, read or watch the news, listen to music, read articles and books, and journal in the target language. Not all consumption has to be actively focused on understanding every word that is said. Most of us don’t listen to the music we hear every day with the intention of dissecting the meaning of the song. The point of consuming everything in the target language is to begin to think in the language. When we first start learning a language it’s from the framework of our own language, but eventually, we should be able to move fluidly between the two languages without translating the learned language through our native language.
Ways to Engage with Media in your Target Language:
To put this into practice:
Read an article or a few pages from a book in the target language
Write a few sentences about anything in the target language, keeping a journal in the target language can be especially helpful
Listen to an episode of a podcast in the target language, as a bonus, look at the transcription after listening while listening to the podcast a second time
Watch an episode of a TV show or a movie in the target language
Listen to music in the target language
Watch Youtube or TikTok in the target language
Change your phone language to the target language