The four disciplines within language are: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Until such a time as you are in a country or living a life in which you only read, write, speak and listen to the language(s) you are learning, how can you make every effort to create that environment for yourself, everyday?
Do you live with someone? Perhaps a partner, children, housemates or family? No matter whether you’re in constant contact with people, animals or #1, what’s important is making a daily habit of incorporating elements of your target language (the language you are in the process of learning) into your regular speech.
Here are a few suggestions for common words and phrases that you could very well work into your daily routine:
“I love you!”
“See you later!”
If you want to go further than that, you could also try:
asking for/telling the time;
asking/saying what is for tea;
phrases which, in English, begin with “Let’s …(cook, watch a film, go for a coffee, …)!”.
The key is to adopt what you usually say, ask or talk about within your daily rituals into your target language – which is also the key to the success of this exercise: making a daily commitment to include this as part of your routine, if immersion really is what you’re going for!!
Do you own a phone? Possibly a laptop or tablet, too? One thing you can do to make sure you are frequently exposed to reading material in your target language… or, at least as often as you look at your device… is to tinker with the settings and overdo the whole thing in a bright new shade of: Japanese, French, Italian or whatever you wish to be more exposed to!! If you’re learning more than one language, use each for a different program on your computer!
However, even if you set up your phone in a different language, it may be that you don’t really spend enough time looking at the screen to make that one gesture worthwhile (a little like me!). If this is your case, worry not – it’s not the only thing you could be trying! Commit to reading a passage daily or even weekly in your target language(s)! It doesn’t have to be an enormous amount – but it does need to be done frequently, in order for you to feel that your are being immersed in your language(s) of choice…
By making a daily habit out of reading any resources in your target language, you are simultaneously allowing yourself to become used to the feeling of immersion in this language and giving yourself the opportunity to recognise and therefore begin to learn those words, phrases and constructions!
One reason I so love listening practice as a daily ritual is that it is an activity you can do almost anywhere and anytime, including at the same time as doing something else! Knowing how busy you undoubtedly are, that is a huge benefit!!
Whereas (personally!) I find reading, speaking and writing to be activities which require you to dedicate time to them and them alone, listening is something you can do whilst otherwise dedicating time only to yourself. Unless you can read and knit at the same time, speak and run at the same time or write and meditate at the same time, listening is your go-to activity for daily language immersion which doesn’t stop you from knitting, running, meditating, cooking, doing yoga or even sleeping while you do it.
Choose from the ample selection of free listening material available on the internet… Go for audios on YouTube (set it to, and then type in, your target language!), podcasts on any number of websites (my personal favourite being TuneIn), and, of course – music! Set your iTunes Country/Region accordingly, and discover artists whose music you can later search for online, or buy and listen to anytime!
Even without particularly focusing on, or even 100% following what you are listening to, by exposing your ears to the sounds and structures of the language you aspire to acquire, you are bringing yourself ever closer to being in sync with that language!
Depending on the particular activities which make up your own personal daily routine, writing as a practice might be more or less easy to incorporate into your daily rituals – get creative!!
Here’s how your target language could contribute to your daily writing rituals… You could use it to write:
the days of the week and the months on your calendar/diary;
notes which you leave on the fridge as nice surprises (think of what you would say to those you share your home with – ‘SPEAKING‘, above!);
recipes, shopping lists or to-do lists – at a stage where you have gained sufficient confidence in yourself so as to entrust such tasks to your foreign language, perhaps!!
As with all the suggestions I make above, what I’d like to emphasise the most is the importance of integrating these gestures as part of your daily rituals; indeed, they are certain to benefit you only if they are based on your current daily practices! By dedicating the time you spend each day accomplishing your daily tasks to incorporating your target language(s), you are bound to make leaping progress and – above all – love feeling a sense of immersion in your foreign language!