Interactive Immersion

Today a thought crossed my mind about the effectiveness of immersion and why some people absolutely love and live by it and others say its a waste of time and effort. What made some people’s immersion more effective that others?  It dawned on me that the major difference was often obscure (not emphasized), not talked about, or maybe not even realized by the people who found it very effective. So here I am to share some of my thoughts on why Immersion really is the way to go, but not just any old can off the shelves will do, but rather Interactive Immersion.

What is it?

I made this word up, but if it exsists for something else, well I don’t care. I am redefining it here for myself. Interactive Immersion is simply immersing yourself in things that require you to interact with it in order to use it/listen to it/read it/ect.

What is the difference between it and Plain Old Brand Immersion?

If you’ve ever bought milk, you’ll notice there are several types. Whole, skim, 2%, 1%, lactose free, Fat Free, ect. Interactive Immersion is merely a version of Immersion. Nothing really different except that its not on the back burner, its up in your face, demanding your action and input.

What items or activities are considered Interactive Immersion?

There are many types of things: video games, os in your target language, language partners (not allowing you to use native language at all), websites that need you to fill out things, search engines, chat rooms/ims/txts/emails/letters in your target language, and so much more.

What isn’t considered II?

See how I got lazy and wrote II? haha, anyhow, what isn’t considered is: Television, movies, music, books, some websites, any situations where you’re listening or watching but not doing anything else, not participating. Even reading and listening at the same time doesn’t count.

What makes the huge difference?

So now that you got an idea about what material I’m talking about, now I’ll let you in on why it makes such a huge difference. Action. Yup, that’s all there is to it. Action. Sure, you should immerse yourself, and read, man read all you can stand and then some, movies and music. All these things are wonderful. But the kicker is, until you’re on the line, having to use it, show it, answer it, make yourself vulnerable to effing things up, you’ll miss out on the wonderful joys of pushing through to actual language usage.

A lot of people who follow AJATT often forget about the action step of immersion. They ask fellow AJATTers about what sources they use for immersion and how to get it around them, but a lot of them forget things like, switching os and web pages like youtube and facebook into Japanese. They’re afraid, they think they’ll mess something up forever, or make fools of themselves to themselves. Guess what, we will. And we will. We will maybe a million times. Guess what also, we do this in English all the time too and we’re a native of how ever many years old!

It is a scary step for some, but for as long as you’re putting it off, you’ll never push through that barrier. And its really not that hard of a barrier. The amount of pleasure you’ll get from it is so intense, it will fuel you to go even further and further. It will also help you switch into monolingual stuff in no time. I’ve asked around, and it seems to be the pattern. Those who engage in more interactive immersion, (like talking in their target language, even if its just about weather), get further and farther and more comfortable in the langugage, than those who sit back and just let the immersion stand around them.

Liz Learners recently blogged about going into a Japanese Bookstore in NYC. She talked specifically about how happy she was with immersion. She talked about how great being surrounded was. But not only that, Liz spoke about how she was forced to interact in Japanese only with other people.

3. Lots of people I could look ridiculous in front of.
Nothing like a bit of social pressure to motivate you to do your best.  Not to say that I don’t regularly look ridiculous to strangers on a daily basis, but I felt extra pressure to really know what I was doing and understand what I was reading- or figure it out, lest I end up looking for ハリー・ポッター in the 日本者 section (Harry Potter in the Japanese authors section).  There was, admittedly, some “I can do this and I’ll prove it to you!” feeling in me too

Nothing puts you on the spot more than someone asking you a question. You have to answer. It creates panic and disorder if you don’t know what to do, even if you know what they’re saying, a newbie of any language will explain how they feel blank at that point. So how do you get over that? Do it more! Don’t shy away, even if your first couple attempts are just horrible gibberish and giggles. You are and will be better with every step you take interacting with your Japanese.

So there you have it folks. Since this now only recently dawned on myself, I’ll be changing even more of what I do to Interactive Immersion. Of course, I’ll keep a lot of immersion playing around me in the background, watching shows because its fun (and fun is best), and jamming to music because this is just as important. But of course, you already know why its important, so I’ll not go into that haha. If you’d like anything clarified, let me know, post that comment!

2 Responses to “Interactive Immersion”
  1. Daniel says:

    Great post, and another reason why everyone should play Japanese video games 🙂

    I find some are easier to play (and still enjoy) in early stages of learning. Rhythm Heaven and Pokemon were big for me in that department.

    • mikotoneko says:

      Yes, as it stands I got Rune Factory 3 and the last Star Ocean. lots of fun there! but I don’t get much time to play it, 😀 I spend most my time keeping the controller from my daughter’s grasp hehe

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

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    Total read for Tadoku:
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