Learning German Week 8: Achieving Immersion
Learning languages necessitates immersion. I’ve been utilizing the next best thing to complete immersion, the Rosetta Stone language community. Notice there that I didn’t say simply, “Rosetta Stone software”. The software alone isn’t enough. Sure the program is great; it’s the best of all the language learning programs on the market. The fact remains, though, that no matter how competent it is, it’s still a software program which is limited in the amount of information it can impart to you. To become fluent in a language you’ll need immersion, and that takes something else. Thankfully Rosetta Stone has made some important upgrades to their language learning offerings (I’d give them a link, but they’re not doing anything for me so I don’t feel compelled). They’ve included the aforementioned (see related article) Audio Companion (20 CDs), as well as plugged us into a community of other learners in the Rosetta World component of the Totale software. Let’s talk about immersion:
Becoming Immersed Without Getting on a Plane:
Yes, it’s possible to become sufficiently enough immersed to learn German without going to Germany (or wherever). The catch is this: It’s going to take a significant time investment and you’re going to look like a weirdo. This morning I bought myself an MP3 player. It’s nothing fancy, just a simple 4G SanDisk thing. I loaded all 20 audio companion CDs onto it along with my 15 CDs from the Barron’s Mastering German program I’ve been using. I also loaded a bunch of German language music and an audio book in German. All told, I’ve maxed out my 4 Gig capacity and now wish I had gotten a bigger device. I’ve had myself plugged in almost all day listening to German this, that and the other thing. Now that I’ve removed my headphones I feel that I’ve come out of a metaphorical pool of German. I’m still dripping wet looking for a towel. My first attempt to type this post came out wrong because I found my English (Subject/Verb placement) hadn’t quite clicked on yet; It’s not that I could have communicated in German or anything either though; one day isn’t going to make much of a difference. The point is that I felt my brain starting to move, and if I continue the artificial immersion, I will begin more and more to recognize sounds and reproduce them with meaning.
The reason I’ve looked like a fool at times this morning is that I haven’t been at home all day. I’ve been walking around town (gas is too expensive) speaking German to myself. Not good German mind you – more like “The keys are in the bowl.” and “The man is on the horse.” type German. Not the sort that constitutes conversation and which people would think is normal. In fact a few people looked at me funny when I was in the Supermarket in the produce section saying “Obst!” and “Gemüse!” and “Karotten!, Äpfel!, and Kartoffeln!” (Exclamation points included). In any case, we talked about making fools of ourselves last week. Needless to say I’m trying to get over it.
To illustrate my point about becoming immersed in a language I present the learning Norse (I think it’s Norse) scene from the film The 13th Warrior. No matter what anybody says, I like that movie. This scene really is sorta how it feels to learn a new language. At first nothing makes any sense. But then, with a little context and paying attention, words start to pop out. Eventually you start to pick it up as the words click in your head. I thought I was alone in liking this scene, but I’m not. One of my friends who is a professor of French shows this scene to his students every semester. Watch: