Being Immersed in a Foreign Language by Anastasia Vylegzhanina

 

Everything is possible if you really want it; A statement that I try to live by. When it comes to learning languages, whether it be German, Spanish, French, English, etc..., effort and dedication are necessary aspects to the venture. It is definitely not simple, as it requires an outstanding ability to memorize words and phrases. However, as I mentioned before, if you put in the effort to learning the language, you will inevitably start to understand the grammar and will be able to speak with ease. Let me assure you, it is only a matter of time!

Believe it or not, I hated English with my whole heart and I was convinced that I would never need it in my life! In high school, I did pretty well without knowing English. However, after graduation, my destiny brought me to my B.A. in Foreign Languages where I had to deal pretty close with English. My first three years of University I cried each time while doing my English homework. I did not know what was wrong with me. "Why can't I understand or speak English like the rest of my classmates?". It was disheartening and disappointing, but despite all my frustrations, I did not give up on English and I am continuing to learn it.

woman working on her laptop at desk, with notebooks, flowers, and coffee on desk Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

Honestly, I’ve tried almost everything by now, including, group evening classes, language clubs, etc.... Each time after joining a class or a club, I was coming to the same conclusion that mastering a foreign language through a course was not my path. I felt like I could achieve my English goals through self-education! Turns out, my prediction was correct and I accomplished my mastery of the English language through 'old-fashioned' blood, sweat, and tears. Eventually, I became an A-Student in my English class by the final year of my undergraduate program!

Now, as I study in the United States and am deeply immersed in the English language every day, I have fallen in love with this logical and direct language. Let me share a couple of useful pieces of advice that might come in handy if you are trying to learn a foreign language!

 

  • Switch all your electronic devices to the language you are trying to learn. This was the very first thing I did. At first it felt silly to see the gadget’s interface in the foreign language but I got used to its new look pretty fast! 
  • Start watching and listening to every movie, TV show, and radio (absolutely all media) in the language. You can start with turning on English subtitles while adjusting but after a while, turn the subtitles off ( especially if you can understand 75% of the content). 
    • Truth be told, it was easy to find many TV shows or documentaries that would match my level of English, as all available media is in Russian back at home. Thankfully, this problem was solved once I could subscribe to streaming platforms, such as Netflix. Once I could watch shows in English, my listening skills improved drastically in a short period of time which made me more confident to speak English!

person holding remote control at TV Photo by freestocks from Unsplash

 

  • Reading in a foreign language is the next step. Before you get stressed, just relax, I am not talking about classic literature. Short articles or social media posts can be more than enough to begin with! Simply dedicate at least 15-30 minutes to reading this media and you will reap the benefits.
  • Make a habit to write down 2-3 new words or phrases on a regular basis. If you can, find some fun ways to implement them in your speech or writing, so you can learn how to use them properly. This type of practice can help you to memorize new material at a quicker pace.
  • Last but not least, DO NOT GIVE UP!  Everybody is different and learns at their own speed. Thus, don’t focus on people’s achievements, be your own boss in achieving goals and dreams! Keep going, keep doing what’s right for you, and you will get the desired outcomes.

 

In the end, I would like to emphasize that no matter what other people say or think of you, stay loyal to your goals! Wins the one who has the last laugh, right?!