Heart Break Kid wrote:I'm an American and I am looking for a 6-12 month language immersion program in Mandarin, preferably something not exceeding 5k USD.
Does anyone know of any good cheap ones? It seems like I keep finding these placement sites which seem to charge a middle man fee (plus a lot of them are quite expensive).
I'm also interested in Romance languages, Vietnamese and Thai as well - perhaps others considering immersion schools could find this thread of use.
Any info or experience with language immersion programs is welcomed!
Several people have written about creating their own immersion programs, without going anywhere.
All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) is one that gets mentioned a lot, on here Scotroyenne
, and Whatiftheblog
are ones I've read. I think Small White's chinesepod method
could fit into the same set.
Yes! Okay, granted, I've never tried to learn Mandarin, but it's obviously widely spoken - you can absolutely develop your own artificial immersion method for pennies on the dollar without leaving your home. If you have 6-12 months to work with, this is totally feasible. AJATT is correct in stating that "native speakers" are just people who happened to have been born in an environment where everything is in the language they claim as their native one - with a high-speed internet connection, you can do that just as easily at home in the US. I went from a pretty decent foundation but really terrible expression skills in French to getting accepted (through an interview) to an advanced professional masters program in France in under 12 months, all while working ~45-50 hours a week. Again, I get that French isn't Mandarin, and I don't know how far along you are in your studies, but my top pointers would be:
1. Focus on content you really love
. Whether that's music, a particular film genre, literary fiction, politics, sports, beauty vlogs, anything
, whatever you like. I lucked out in that I happened upon a particularly dynamic election cycle in France, and that's totally my jam, so I was glued to my computer all year. If you just do course after course after course, you run the risk of getting bored way too quickly, and then you stagnate. Take the reins and select content you naturally want to consume. Patterns will start emerging fairly quickly - you'll keep coming across the same phrases or sentences, and then you'll suddenly find yourself effortlessly reproducing them.
2. Get a shower speaker. Seriously the best $50 I've ever spent. Train yourself to have Mandarin content on throughout everyday activities/tasks - showering, getting ready, doing the dishes, vacuuming, commuting, whatever applies to you. This is what native speakers do. Rebuild your life around this.
3. Anything you can do in English, you can do in Mandarin - make that your new mantra. Transform anything that requires instructions - cooking, DIY projects, whatever - into Mandarin-only content.
4. "Vlog" for yourself. Imagine you're filming yourself for a vlog - you don't actually have to film yourself, but you can if you want to - and trying talking out loud about whatever you like, from how you feel on any given day to your opinions on politics or cultural phenomena or societal transformations or whatever. Pick a topic you want
to talk about and just talk to yourself. You'll quickly determine where your weak points are. You can absolutely pause to look up a word or phrase you're missing. Chances are you'll find out you're better at it than you think you are. Do this daily.
5. Find something to get hooked on - a show, a podcast, a pop culture phenomenon, whatever. Develop habits that are all Mandarin all the time. I now feel that my day is incomplete without my 2-3 daily French podcasts/political talk shows, and I can easily spend hours on them.
6. Keep running lists of phrases you find interesting/useful - I do this on my phone. If I happen upon a phrase I find interesting, I'll type it up in a note to myself. Re-read those notes every day.
7. Create a separate Twitter / Weibo? account dedicated to your Mandarin immersion. Follow people/things you enjoy to ensure you keep coming back to it every day, multiple times a day. Read through threads and replies. Again, you'll quickly determine where your weak points are. Having constant exposure to content you love will keep you motivated, and developing an "addiction" in this sense will do you a world of good.