I was one of those people that balked at the idea of language immersion. I figured, with all the learning resources and graded content online, I could absorb as much Chinese as someone living in China.
But after a recent trip to Japan, I’ve started to rethink this viewpoint. After only a day or two of navigating though Tokyo, I realized just how inundated you are with foreign language. I mean, I live in a Chinese community within the US where I see a lot of Chinese business signs and menus. But in Japan, EVERYTHING is in Japanese–the business signs, the road signs, the appliances, the books, the movies, the advertisements, the product labels, the instruction manuals, the PA systems, and of course, the conversations. All of these things are constantly pinging your hippocampus and reinforcing what you’ve learned in your studies.
I subsequently realized that I simply don’t use my Chinese enough to make it stick. I study 2-3 hours a day, but I don’t use the language in my day-to-day life, and I think this is why I consistently forget lower frequency words and characters and why I’m struggling to push past the lower intermediate level.
I can’t move to Taipei or Shanghai, but I was wondering if I could be doing more to create an immersion environment at home. Does anyone have any suggestions? The first thing that comes to mind is switching out my operating systems. I spend a lot of time on my phone and computer, so it probably wouldn’t take me that long to get comfortable using them in Chinese.
Otherwise, I’m trying to figure out all the things I do in English and see if I could instead do them in Chinese. I read a lot of English blogs and news sites, but I doubt I’d be able to understand their equivalents in Chinese. Ditto for TV and movies. Is it worth throwing myself into the deep end of the pool at this low level, even if I could only understand half of what’s being said?
I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions for immersion and how you use Chinese in your daily lives.