Chinese Immersion at Home: How to Live the Language Without Living in China
Mischa Wilmers is a fluent Chinese speaker and educator from the UK who runs the blog and podcast I’m Learning Mandarin. He is also the co-founder of Mandarin Retreat an organisation that run immersive weekend trips and extended five day extended camps for Chinese learners based in Europe. In this series of blogs he offers his best insights and tips into how to improve your Chinese learning efficiency.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people learning Chinese outside of China.
With the advent of online resources and the proliferation of mobile apps, this once daunting task has become more achievable than ever before.
The Internet has opened up an array of opportunities for language learners, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the Chinese language and culture without leaving home.
In this blog, I’ll explore four effective methods to create an immersive learning environment, helping you take your Mandarin to new heights before buying a plane ticket to China.
How have you created a Chinese immersion environment at home? Let us know in the comments!
Chinese Immersion at Home || Replace English Entertainment with Chinese
Chinese Immersion at Home || Establish a Chinese Social Life
Chinese Immersion at Home || Passive Listening
Chinese Immersion at Home || Browse the Web in Chinese
Chinese Immersion at Home || FAQs
Chinese Immersion at Home: Replace English Entertainment with Chinese
One of the simplest, most effective ways to create an immersive learning environment is by replacing your usual English entertainment with Chinese content.
Thanks to the Language Reactor plugin you can watch Chinese shows on platforms like Netflix while easily looking up words you don’t know. Netflix has a rich collection of Taiwanese and Chinese dramas which I have written about in more depth here.
You can also replace English books you’d normally read in your spare time with Chinese graded readers and novels to enhance your language skills.
I recommend the website LingQ which allows you to import your favourite books and articles into the app and read it at your leisure, looking up unknown words and saving them to review later.
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Chinese Immersion at Home Establish a Chinese Social Life
These apps connect language learners with native speakers, giving you the opportunity to practice conversational Chinese with real people.
You can also join local meet-ups and social events organised by Chinese communities and interact with native speakers in person.
When you make friends who speak the language, you gain a real-life purpose for learning it.
It’s no longer just an abstract goal; instead, it becomes a means to connect with and communicate effectively with your new friends. This sense of purpose gives your brain a tangible reason to learn and motivates you to progress towards fluency.
Chinese Immersion at Home: Passive Listening
👉Passive listening means listening to Chinese in the background while doing other tasks.
You don’t always need to pay the listening material your undivided attention (active listening). Instead you can relax and allow your mind absorb the sounds. A great example of this is listening to conversational Chinese podcasts in the background while doing chores or commuting.
While actively engaging in focused practice and study is vital, there are also benefits to incorporating passive listening into your language learning routine.
For a start, you can spend more time doing it.
Whenever you’re walking down the street or washing the dishes you could be spending that time passively listening to Chinese.
You could even listen to Chinese songs.
Although it can’t replace more active forms of listening spending many hours exposed to the language in this way can play a valuable role in your language development and overall immersion.
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Chinese Immersion at Home: Browse the Web in Chinese
Transform your web browsing routine into a language learning session by installing a plugin browser dictionary, such as zhongwen Chinese-English dictionary. This tool helps you easily look up unfamiliar words while surfing the web in Chinese.
Researching topics of interest in Chinese, especially on platforms like Zhihu, the Chinese equivalent of Quora, allows you to delve into discussions on various subjects, expanding both your language proficiency and knowledge base.
Reading online posts will expose you to lots of internet slang and colloquial usage of modern Mandarin.
In short, with the accessibility of online resources, language apps, and virtual communities, creating your own Chinese learning environment from abroad has never been more straightforward.
There is no reason why you have to be in China to explore the vast world of Chinese literature and film or establish friendships with native speakers and ultimately become fluent in the language.
Chinese Immersion at Home || FAQs
What is language immersion?
Language immersion is a learning approach where individuals are surrounded by a specific language in various aspects of their daily life.
In a language immersion setting, learners are consistently exposed to the target language through activities, interactions, and resources, fostering a deeper understanding and acquisition of the language’s vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and cultural nuances.
How do I create an Chinese language immersion environment at home?
Do I need to be an advanced learner to benefit from an immersive environment?
Not at all. Creating an immersion environment is ideal for learners of all levels. It’s especially helpful for beginners to develop familiarity with the language’s sounds and patterns.
And it’s okay to not understand 100% of what you’re hearing!
What resources would you recommend to help me watch TV shows and movies in Chinese?
Language Reactor is one of our all-time favourite tools. It’s a Google chrome extension that uses two sets of subtitles simultaneously.
For advanced learners, we’d recommend that you don’t rely on subtitles too heavily, but it helps to have a Chinese dictionary on hand, like Pleco, to check any unknown words.
How can I practice speaking in Chinese at home or outside of China?
Our Flexi Classes platform lets you learn and practice Chinese 24/7! You can choose classes based around your schedule and progress faster than ever before with our native speaker teachers.
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