Immersion Advice?


Has anyone spent time (at home) in a full immersion environment for an extended period of time? (A month or more). I’m in a fortunate position at the moment where I can spend the next 6 months learning Spanish. I’ve been learning now for around 3 years on and off where I’ve spent a month or so doing a couple of hours/day and then a few months break then maybe 3 weeks, then another month away etc. With this broken study I’m only at around a very weak A2 in my output level and perhaps a strong A2/early B1 for my comprehension.

I really don’t want to waste this time I have, I feel like I can get up to a solid B2 and get myself functionally fluent if put in the time. I’m thinking of spending most of each day immersed in the language, but it’s difficult to know how to do that without doing the same thing until it gets boring.

My study routine is basically listening and reading, but I’m struggling to find material for my current level where A1-2 stuff seems a little easy but the intermediate stuff is still too hard. Some of it is ok, but I think it’s probably very low level intermediate material.

I recently started to read Charlie And The Cholcolate Factory in Spanish and it was a little bit demoralising to discover just how many verbs are unknown to me (even in a children’s book) it’s a little bit tiring to look up so many verbs lol.

My biggest problem is learning vocabulary, I lack words, but I find it really tedious to deliberately learn them, so I find myself kind of recognising a fair amount of words, with a vague feel for what’s being said, and without being anywhere close to being able to use them.

So I think 6 months of home immersion will get me to a decent level, trouble is, I have no idea how to go about this. If anyone has done something similar…

What did you do to achieve this?

What did your day consist of?

Did you spend much time/money on online lessons and such?

How much time did you dedicate on simply listening and reading here on Lingq?

What did you do for output activities?

What would you recommend for someone who still can’t understand natives and therefore can’t understand radio, T.V, YouTube videos by natives, newspapers etc?

Did you deliberately learn vocabulary?


Another member asked this question a few days ago if you wanna look at some of the answers he got

“I find myself kind of recognising a fair amount of words, with a vague feel for what’s being said, and without being anywhere close to being able to use them.”

Sounds like you’re learning a language :slight_smile: That’s kinda what the early stages of immersion are about. Keep going and you’ll be able to understand and identify more and more.

Before getting to a B2 level, the best results I’ve gotten for the time spent were Assimil, and comparative reading with audio books. (Imported into Lingq for best results.) Once you’re at a B2 and above you can start doing more passive podcast listening – even if you don’t understand it at first. Just stick with it.

I have given up on studying words – I just get used to seeing and hearing them. This can happen very fast when you’re reading fiction. No matter how sluggish the progress is at first, I’m convinced that there is no better method than working through fiction books with text and audio. And luckily Spanish is a language with a lot of good material available.


Thanks, that’s kind of what I’m doing, and I’ve started to question if it’s actually doing me any good. Trouble is, I listen to something, don’t understand a lot of it, then I read it, looking up words I don’t know (without trying to learn them), then I understand it more upon listening again, but I don’t hear the words and understand them really, I’m just going off my memory of the meaning of the text overall.

I’m not sure if I’m not focusing enough, or whether that’s normal. It seems like It’ll take an eternity to learn this way, but I guess I’m on the right path from what you said. Maybe a dramatic increase in the time I spend doing this (consistently) will speed up progress significantly over the months. I hope so anyway. It’s just I feel that my level is really low for the time I’ve already spent.


That’s completely normal. Don’t sweat it! Read the text, then listen, remembering what it meant and trying to pick up some words and, as you progress, sentences.
Understanding an oral text in the language is very difficult. It’s probably the last thing you’ll be able to do. It’s not an exam, you’re exposing your brain to complex auditory input whose main meaning you know (from your previous reading). That’s “comprehensible input”. Your brain will learn the language from there.
In comparison, understanding a face to face conversation is way easier. Many language learners who can go around in their target language in everyday life would be completely lost at trying to understand a complex text read to them with no visual clues or possibility of interaction.

For comparison, read what Josu wrote about him understanding Russian radio, consider that he’s an advanced learner who has been able to hold conversations about pretty much any topic for a couple of years:

Of course, the 40000 mark would be much lower in a language such as Spanish than in a Slavic language, which is highly inflected.

A usual progression in listening comprehension for many learners would be:

  • Pick up words
  • Pick up sentences
  • Understand conversations in situations in which you can predict what’s going to be said: restaurants, shops, …
  • Understand unpredictable conversations about simple topics
  • Understand arbitrary conversations in which you take part
  • Understand conversations of other people, which includes video material, films
  • Understand arbitrary material through audio

Thanks man. Sounds like there’s some work ahead if I need 40k words to be able to listen with good comprehension. I’m in awe of you guys learning a difficult language like Russian, I imagine Spanish for an English speaker is a walk in the park in comparison. You must’ve gone through hell to get there in Russian lol.

As others have said, this is exactly how it supposed to work. I think it’s called “Contextual learning” or something similar. First you understand the context, then you understand the sentences, then, at the end, you understand the words themselves.

What I’d do is read and listen at the same time and go sentence by sentence. Also, I think at the beginning, it’s totally fine to read the English sentence first then read and listen to your target language. This makes the first part easier to slug through. Then you can switch it up.

When I started, I could only get through a page or so per session before my brain would turn to mush. Then I was up to 4 pages a day and I thought that was a big deal at the time – nowadays I try to shoot for 22 pages per reading session. When you import a book to Lingq, each lesson’s worth of text ends up being @ 7.5 pages of a printed book so I try to shoot for 3 lesson’s worth in a session.

I’m mentioning this to show that this kind of progress in kind of inevitable if you just stick with the program. Our brain is wired to do this, it just needs time.


Just the opposite, the count of known Russian (or Slavic) words increases faster. For 2 English forms of a word (singular, plural) Russian needs 6 cases in each singular and plural. But knowing the logic, it’s not so hard to guess most of them.

The only language I’ve ever done this with was my French 3 years ago, and I was at the same point you basically were (if not a little lower maybe the very bottom of A2, no where near B1 in my opinion).

I did this home immersion for around 3 weeks (did it for 4, but the last week it started winding down).

It takes a lot of conscience effort to do this, especially trying to avoid certain situations which may require you to speak your native tongue, but it is definately worth it.

I would say after 2 weeks I hit a eureka moment (and currently if I do any full immersions at home, I only do 2 weeks because it’s a lot harder to maintain after that).

After that eureka moment, reading wasn’t a problem (still words I didn’t know in texts, but I was able to learn them from context clues).

Overall I would say that my French went from being this A2-ish level to a high B1-low B2.

What did you do to achieve this?
I did this with a 90%/10% rule, 90% of my day was in that language, the other 10% was things that I absolutely had to do in English. I also put my phone, computer, youtube, facebook etc. all in French so I would get as little of English as possible. I also even tried to dive into the culture, eating pain au chocolat, baguettes, or any French style cuisine.

What did your day consist of?
I mainly used LingQ (6 hours of reading and listening daily (spread out through out the day), but I also went through 3 beginner courses in that time period (Assimil, Living Language, Colloquial). Playing games in order to practice, talking with friends.

I always had a video, songs, podcasts playing in the background (majority of the time from LingQ). Even if I could barely understand it, I still believes it helps a lot when you’re trying to immerse yourself.

Did you spend much time/money on online lessons and such?
Other than the monthly fee for LingQ, and the 3 beginner courses, I didn’t spend any money on actual tutors or classes.

How much time did you dedicate on simply listening and reading here on Lingq?
6 hours at least, some days more.

What did you do for output activities?
For output activites I did a couple things. 1.) My best friend spoke French, so I typed to him on the computer, also called him several times throughout the week to practice on phone conversations.

2.) I played video games, quite a lot, with French people in French servers. I played games such as League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Garry’s Mod (Role-playing servers are a fantastic way to practice speech).
And I sitll use games as my primary output.

What would you recommend for someone who still can’t understand natives and therefore can’t understand radio, T.V, YouTube videos by natives, newspapers etc?
I would recommend them to read and listen a ton. I also would recommend them to have background noise in the language. For me in French, to understand news, I read and listened to a lot of news podcasts, or watched the news a lot (which this is what you need to do for all the things you listed above. In order to get better at understanding it, do more of it.).

So read and listen a lot to specific topics, so if you plan to study for several months, week 1 dedicate to news, week 2 to conversational podcasts (which there is a lot on LingQ), week 3 radio podcasts, etc etc.

Did you deliberately learn vocabulary?
I only wrote down words from lessons that I thought I would use on my friend or natives.

This is a long post, but tried to give you exactly what I did in order to get a major increase in my language skill.

I can still specifically remembering this immersion and it taught me a lot about my learning style, what I like to do and what I don’t like to do.

However you go about it, enjoy it. I enjoyed every minute of this, and would do it again if life permitted.


Russian really is not that hard, the learning curve is just steeper since it’s so different.

I don’t really use this website for Spanish but if you’re into TV shows, here are a couple decent ones that are on Netflix:

Fugitivos (Colombian Spanish)
Club de Cuervos (Mexican Spanish)
Gran Hotel
La Promesa (Colombian Spanish)

I precised when they are not from Spain since the slang tends to vary a lot between countries and regions. Mexican Spanish especially tends to be very “slangy” but you get used to it really fast.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to detail what you did, this will be of tremendous help to me.

I wasn’t sure about exactly how much listening and reading I should do, I feared doing too much of one thing might be counterproductive but it sounds like you spent a large proportion of your time on input. I’m pleased to hear that as I enjoy listening and reading. Whether I’ll still enjoy it after 4-5 hours of it daily is another question, haha.

Thanks again :slight_smile:

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@t_harangi, comparative reading, isn’t time-consuming? At which level to use this and when to quit?

Technically, comparative reading is a built in part of a lot of language courses to begin with. Assimil, for example, is based on this principle, with repetition, added grammar and notes etc. But really, with Assimil, you’re reading and listening to material with the translation provided – that’s comparative reading.

Now, with regards to doing this with “real” fiction books and audio books: Which level to start? In an ideal situation, I feel that going through the two stages of Assimil books – “With Ease” and “Using” – gets you to a perfect point to move onto comparative reading with fiction books. In the “Using” series of Assimil, they actually will have excerpts from acclaimed books in the target language as part of their lessons in order to give you a taste of what it’s like to move onto more complex material.

If only the “With ease” version is available in Assimil, I’d recommend moving onto comparative reading form there, but using some easier material to start with. Same with any other language course. Meaning, ideal point, I think, is at the B2 or C1 level, but B1 is also doable with appropriate material.

However, I’ve heard of people who attack a new language by jumping straight into comparative reading with audio books, and I think it’s a fascinating idea as well for an experienced language learner. I intend to do this with Spanish at some point.

When to quit? I assume you mean when to quit the “comparative” part :slight_smile: It depends on the tools you use, but you’ll start feeling when it’s the right time to ditch the native language version of the text. If you’re reading the books via Lingq, this can happen faster because the words are ready to look up right there.

In my case, after two stages of Assimil, I did one French book as comparative and ditched the English version after. In German I did 1.5 books – ditched the English halfway through the second one.

Is it time consuming? Yes. Just like every other method. It’s just that you get an excellent “benefits vs. time spent” ratio with this method.

Thank you very much! I like your comments here on the Forum. They always convey very helpful ideas written in good English.

Thanks! I’m glad you found it helpful :slight_smile:

Hi, I will give you a quick answer on how I went about learning to speak Spanish:

  1. I got Pimsleur Spanish Levels 1-5 for free from the library and listening to a lesson on my way to work and repeated the same lesson on my way back (1hr per day).
  2. After dinner, I would study an assimil lesson (30-45 minutes); the next day listen to the old lesson 3 times and start the next lesson.
  3. After 6 months of this, I started taking classes with a Spanish Tutor (italki) once per week (1hr lesson) ONLY SPEAKING SPANISH “NO ENGLISH” no matter how silly you sound (learn how to talk around a word)…also you should be speaking 80% of the time if not, get a new teacher
  4. Along with Step 3, I would read on lingq and save words and phrases I wanted to use during my conversations
  5. I would talk with whoever in person just to get extra practive but I wouldn’t seek it out only if the opportunity presented itself

Around the 1 year mark, I spoke and still speak fluent Spanish…so here are the metrics:

  1. How much time did I invest: ~750 Hours of study and ~30 hours of speaking in a year
  2. How much money did I spend: Pimsleur free, Assimil $125, Lingq membership, tutor ~$350