During my personal language immersion last week I learned some Swedish, Spanish and Chinese.
Learning Swedish by watching (SVT) news and TV series and (YouTube) videos
To practice some Swedish listening, I watched this video about Swedish exceptionalism and news episodes from Nyheter pa latt svenska, Nyheter Direkt and I downloaded the SVT Språkplay app to watch more serieson Swedish TV that have subtitles, which is very useful for Swedish learners.
Being in Spain, I had many conversations with locals. How fun it must be to be called a local, like you are some touristic highlight. But the residents here who speak Spanish at a native level are one of the reasons why I’m here. Why not immerse myself with others, all on a safe distance of course? ☺ I try to have conversations to the max. So many times it’s not necessary at all to have an extra chat with the waiter at a coffee place, at the counter of a supermarket or store or engage in long-lasting conversations which might be the start of a new friendship. But they’re all good ways to freshen up my Spanish and to get to understand the lives of others here. So challenge yourself to speak your target language(s). When it doesn’t feel easy, it’s means you’re learning something. And not just to actively apply what you learned or learn some new words, but also to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, which will remove social barriers. That way you’ll feel closer to the people around you and feel more part of the culture of the language that you chose for some reason. It might feel uncomfortable, but you’ll get much out of it, if you try it. Even if it doesn’t appear to be the case at first. And eventually that skill will enable you to repeat that with other new languages later on.
For instance, in many shops run by Chinese people in Spain, I try to listen if I hear the people behind the counter speak Mandarin, one of the languages I’m currently learning. Then I put myself at social risk asking and ask the shop employee: 你是中国人吗？Are you Chinese? In my experience, they seem to like it me asking them that question, even though they don’t always expect a guiri to speak in a language other than Spanish or English. They always ask me if I’m learning Chinese. I always reply that I want to learn it, but that I don’t really speak it yet. That’s where the convo stops, at least in Mandarin. To many, that would be a reason to not even try. But my perspective is that it not only helps me to practice that sentence, but it opens up a need to study more, cause I want to be able to say more than those two lines and to not feel embarrassed. So I feel that putting myself in the awkward position of not being able to say more actually helps me to later on actually learn such a difficult language. They often ask me why I want to learn it and I answer that I like the challenge and love the characters. So I guess I can prepare for a short typical dialogue about that. Not cause I’d feel that I can speak Chinese, but cause it’s a necessary start, for me at least. I also got to know the perfectionist learner. They take lessons for ever, until they speak the language perfectly and they’re waiting for the moment that they will feel comfortable speaking, a moment I don’t believe that will come without practicing.