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Immigrante (series of blog posts about language learning and living in a different country)


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Immigrante Chapter 1: Should I meet up with other immigrants/expats?

I've been living in a different country for quite a while now, not to mention that my parents were both born in a different country from where I came from, so technically I've always been considered a foreigner since birth until very recently (the Dutch consider you foreigner if at least 1 parent was born elsewhere, the Poles consider you foreigner if you're born elsewhere, and the Japanese consider you foreigner if you behave and speak differently from locals).

So I figured that maybe I should make a little series about living in a foreign country and learning the language of that country.
This series is not about how you have to learn, I'm not telling what is a fact and what is a fiction, etc.
It's about my personal experience of living in a different country in relation to learning the language, what I recommend you should and should not do, how to avoid obstacles, without affecting your opinions.

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From this point on, I will shorten "immigrants or expats" to "IE".
Likewise, "host country" will be shortened to "HC", and "language learning" will be shortened to "LL".

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So the question of the day is, should I meet up with other IE?
When it comes to social contact in the comfort of a language you already know, it's up to you.

As for myself, I avoid this.
Among the reasons are:

  1. It's very likely your fellow IE either don't know the language of the HC (yet), or will want to speak in a different language to you.
  2. I don't know why, but with the exception of a very few rare individuals, IE tend to be on the far left in their political beliefs.
    Disclosure: I have no problem with people on the left, centre, or right, those people are usually reasonable and avoid political discussions where unnecessary (unless they don't know it's political, for example corona virus).
    Meanwhile, people on the far left, far right, extreme left, and extreme right bring up politics in a lot of situations, and once you show to have at least a slightly different opinion, you'll end up in a conflict, losing the friendships you just made, etc. very quickly.
  3. They tend to not explore anything of the HC outside of the tourist traps, and work at international companies together with other IE, so I often end up having way more knowledge and experience about our HC after 2 years than they have after 2 decades.

When it comes to LL, you might want to avoid other IE for the 1st reason, 2nd and 3rd reasons are just extra's.

The fast majority of my friends and contacts here in Japan are Japanese people, the vast majority of them are monolingual too.
I do occasionally make friends with other IE, but I always talk in Japanese to them and don't make it clear that I know any other language.
This is to test whether they are OK or not.
Other IE probably already have a bunch of IE friends, but the IE that can speak the language of the HC decently fluently are more likely to be on the more reasonable/accepting side when it comes to diversity of opinions and discussions, and due to not being fluent enough to bring up politics (they might do so if they could speak in English or another language they are fluent/native in to you).
Plus speaking the HC language even to non-natives adds up to your LL.

I did talk to other IE in English during my first few months here, but with the exception to 1 person, everyone broke contact with me after a short time, got angry for some reason, etc.
All of them have already returned to their original country a long time ago too.

Another big problem with befriending other IE that is relevant to yourself, the locals, and other IE alike: you'll end up in a "foreigner bubble", because of that the locals will never consider you part of society, other IE will constantly remind you of exactly that, and you will never understand your HC and never get past the fundementals of the language (if you're lucky), because there's no need to be able to speak the HC language.

If you don't know the language well enough, watch TV, YouTube, etc., listen to the radio, podcasts, etc., read books, comics, internet articles, etc. in the HC language all the time.
Search on the internet in the HC language, find a job in HC language and work alongside locals, etc.
Your brain will automatically rewire itself to understand the HC language at some point in time.

I came to the point to be able to understand Japanese so well, I even discovered a very dark side of this country's political, economic, and cooperate sectors (most recently medical, sexual, and deep state (paedophilia, human trafficking, and cannibalism) too, which are all pretty huge, yet get by unnoticed every single year), a lot of places no other IE has ever even known about, secrets that usually only natural born citizens will know about, how to read between the lines that other IE are unable to wrap their heads around at all, etc., but all of this are subjects for another time.

But none of that will be possible if you maintain contacts with other IE in non-HC language.
You can be friends with other IE and still progress in your LL, but only if you speak in the HC language to them and they do the same to you.
You can be friends with other IE just for social contact, but is this the way to go if you want to spend the remainder of your life in your HC?
I don't think so.

An example closest to me would be my mum; she was born in Poland, lives in the Netherlands since almost a whole decade before I was born and took Dutch citizen before my birth too, but she socialises with other Poles for the vast majority of the time.
As a result, she speaks Dutch with terrible grammar (and I feel like her sense of grammar is getting worse and worse the longer I stay in Japan), doesn't know how to correctly spell words, etc., despite having lived in the Netherlands for almost 40 years now.
But at least she is able to win almost any dispute, which is pretty awesome.

How comes I can speak Japanese so well after only 2 years in Japan (+ 1 decade of learning beforehand), while somebody living in the Netherlands for almost 40 years in a row still can't speak Dutch well?
How comes that western, Indian, some Korean, and some Chinese IE living in Japan for 10? 20? 30? years still can't speak Japanese beyond the basics?
Why does this NOT apply to Vietnamese, Indonesian, Nepalese, Burman, Singaporian, Taiwanese, Filipino, some other Koreans, and some other Chinese IE living in Japan for the same amount of time?

Do you really believe language skills being "gifted"?
If true, why is the ability of LL discriminated by nationality? (or in woke language: is God racist?)
And how are you able to speak your native language if you're not "gifted"?

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Immigrante Chapter 2: Make new friends with the locals, but be careful!

Friends are always good to have, but be careful with who it will be.
If somebody wants to befriend you for LL reasons, you better decline the offer.

The reason is not because you shouldn't have a language partner (on the contrary, you should if you're still learning!), but if you already speak both languages fluently and the other person only knows one of those, it's basically like signing a deal that will benefit only 1 side.
Who are you to the person who befriends you solely for LL? A teacher.
What do you do to teachers once you learnt enough? You leave.
Therefore, a (1 sided) language partner will never be your real friend!

Same goes for people willing to befriend you for being a foreigner; don't!
Those people will only want to hang out with you for your exoticness, not because they genuinely like you.

It might sound strange, but the best friends are those who are not interested in foreigners.
I have made friends who are into gaming here in Japan.
I am a foreigner with no Asian DNA at all, and they have no interests in anything foreign, but we share a common hobby, we can understand each other (language ability, etc.), and I'm just considered part of the group rather than the foreigner in the group.
And this is the group I'm hanging out with during the weekends, public holidays, and we're here for each other almost like a family.
Except we're living quite a bit apart from one other, but still closer by than any member of my actual family though (yes, I'm single!).

I made friends with other IE and with locals with interest in foreigners.
The IE were friends until they suddenly weren't, and locals with interest in foreigners dumped me as soon as they figured out that I prefer to speak Japanese to them instead of English, and on top of that that I'm not a native English speaker unlike what they think of anyone from outside of east Asia to be.

For people wondering about marriage and/or dating, the exact same thing applies here.
The only difference would be the gender of the other people (and the amount of people).

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  • 宇崎ちゃん changed the title to Immigrante (series of blog posts about language learning and living in a different country)

I just realised that the "Offtopic" section can only be viewed by people with more than 500 posts, which is rare to members and impossible to guests.
Therefore, I just moved it to "Language Learning" instead.

And for that reason, I merged both topics into 1 to keep things clean.

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Immigrante Chapter 2.5: Common questions

Whenever people find out that I'm a European living in Japan, I get a host of questions whether it's from locals, or IE, or former IE who returned to their home country, or people in my home country, etc.
Instead of moving on to chapter 3 that I wanted to do today, I'll quickly get through this bonus chapter.
Feel free to skip it if you're not interested.

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Do you ever feel like you want to move back to your home country?
It's hard to predict the future.
However, I want to stay where I am for the remainder of my life, but things can possibly change.
For example if I don't get my visa extended (in case I get laid off, or somehow commit a crime, or get suspected of it), I will have no other choice than to move back.
But apart from that, I am happier here than I was there, so even after 2 years I still don't feel like wanting to go back.

Don't you miss family and friends in home country?
The vast majority of my friends are in this country, which has been my primary reason to move to Japan.
Everyone else I know are on either Discord or LINE, with the exception of a few on LINE, I've never met any of them offline before.

I have 2 options:
Either I live in home country, be without offline friends, work for a company with employees that didn't like me at all, and be around 2 family members.
Because most of my family lives in Poland, so I'm already used to almost never see them, shortest interval being 9 months and longest being 12 years (so I never saw any of them during my 10s).
And in the Netherlands, most members have died over a decade ago, and have only 2 people left.
Or I live in my current country, have friends more nearby and in the same timezone, work for a company with lots of respect towards each other, and my 2 family members are wealthy enough to come over 4 to 5 times a year and fund my travel to them once a year (only didn't happen this year because of US presidential elections, I mean a dangerous killer virus that killed pretty much nobody simply because it doesn't exist).

I think the choice is pretty clear.

Are you an American or Australian?
I get that a lot by Japanese people when they start a conversation and I haven't said anything yet (relevant for the upcoming chapter, keep this in mind).
Because according to the common stereotypes here in Japan, every white person is probably an American and speaks English as their first language.
Not sure where the Australian part came from however, probably seasonal?
Because I mostly get asked if I'm Australian around February~April, which happens to be a time of the year when lots of Australians visit Japan from my observation.

But no, I'm not an American nor Australian.
Not even from any English speaking country.
Although given the numbers, it's to be expected.
Screenshot_20200912_161403.png.1f9a488e613067f14cc8af63ddec92d2.png

 

Are you a ハーフ (mixed race Japanese + whatever other ethnicity)?
In the event I do talk before they talk (more often than the previous scenario by the way), this is among the most popular question among strangers.
Probably because of me being white that speaks Japanese quite on par with native speakers?

But no, I have no Japanese citizenship (I might get it 3 years later from now if whatever I said in the first question doesn't change), neither I have any Asian DNA at all.

"So you want to get a Japanese citizenship? Don't do that! White people will never be considered Japanese!"
The only people who ever say that to me tend to be other IE ironically.
In most countries, you might get the concept of nationality = race, or nationality = culture, or culture = race, or nationality + culture + race is the exact same.
In Japan however, all 3 concepts are separate.

I have an officially registered alias in Japan which I can use for any kind of identification within the country, you can get any alias you want (including in kanji!) for only 400 yen at any ward or city office.
Whenever I introduce myself with my alias combined with being very fluent in Japanese, and I already confirmed that I'm not a ハーフ, the next thing the locals often tend to think is if I'm just another Japanese person, or whether I was adopted and raised here.
Let's say it's none of that.

Perhaps I'm just some alien from outer space?
I make this joke with small children sometimes if I hear them ask their parents why I look so differently and their parents turn a bit embarrassed because of it.
I just tell these children "well actually, I'm from the moon and came to earth in peace. That's why I look so differently, but it's a secret between you and me. Promised?".
Then me and the parents of that child just laugh and move on.

It's always better to have a good sense of humor than it is to get offended by something rather innocent.
Social justice warriors, take note.

Did you maybe move to the other side of the planet to go after the ladies?
On the contrary, I have no plans on marrying anyone.
Not in my home country, nor in my current country.
I might eventually get to that stage some day, but as I said, future can be unpredictable.

Is your home country OK during the corona virus pandemic?
Sorry, I'm not interested in politics nor their scams.

Why did you get a Japanese alias? Weeb?
I'll tell you right now, if I were to move to Japan for being a weeb, I'd probably either return to my home country after a few months, or never move in the first place.
Typical weebs don't even speak Japanese, and everything they love about Japan can be easily imported at home using the mystical power of the internet.

The reason why I got my alias is as follows:
Last year I moved from a foreigner-friendly apartment rental company to a more Japanese-only rental company (which by the way is much easier if you speak Japanese than it is if you rely on somebody else to translate, plus Japanese real estate companies tend to prefer Europeans over Americans for some reason).
Until then I had gas, electricity, and water included in my rent, so I didn't have to worry about it.

But now I have to be subscribed to a gas/electricity company by myself, plus the one water company that is provided by the prefectural government (why do I have to pay then?).
Subscription to the water "company" is done by them coming to my house and filling out the form on paper (21st century, good griefs...).

However, the gas/electricity had an internet-based application form, and it happened to be the first electronic form I've ever encountered that refused to accept last and firstnames in katakana or hiragana, it had to be in kanji.
So I first tried to somehow take the pronunciation of my real name and turn them into kanji.
But due to how insanely difficult names are in Polish from a non-slavic perspective, I ended up with a monsterous long lastname (firstname was very short however) using kanji that is otherwise never used.
So then I decided to fill in 漢字名 (Kanji name) as my lastname, and 無 (I don't have) as my firstname.
But before going further, I thought "if I have to write a name in kanji, then why won't I make one up?".
So I manufactured a last- and firstname that sounds like if a native Japanese person would have it, at the same time I tried to make sure that no living person has this name (as far as I can know).

All was OK, when they came to my house to install gas/electricity, they always referred me to the made up kanji name, even though I already explained what my real name is and why I made this name up, they kept using my made up kanji name for the entirety of the visit.
Then I thought "if I can sign up for something this serious using a made up name without problems, then maybe I should make it official".

I first checked the Dutch laws, but changing ones lastname is not only next to impossible, it costs a fortune too.
Changing ones firstname is even more impossible, and even more expensive.

But then I saw that under Japanese law you can register an alias in addition to your real name.
Costs only 400 yen, and you only have to show your employment certificate at work that has my alias on it (just ask the employer to do so, and he'll do it without problems), and 3 months of gas/electricity bills with my alias on it.
So that's the name I'm going by within Japan since then.

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That's all, I hope you enjoyed this little spin off.
Tomorrow I'll talk about why you should NOT live in a big city when it comes to LL, as promised yesterday.

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Immigrante Chapter 3: Looking for a place to live. You should NOT live in a big city!

Unless if you move to another country in order to move in with your spouse, the most obvious choice is usually a big city.
That's what everyone knows, that's what all the tourists see, that's where all the jobs and universities are, and that's where you can party without knowing a single word.
I probably already spoiled it here, so I might as well just say it right now: unless you move to an English speaking country, do NOT move to a big city!!

It doesn't mean that you will have to live in the middle of nowhere, just outside of a big city while still in reach of one is enough.
Big cities are set up with the expectation that foreign tourists will at least visit its central areas.
People around you are typically prepared to be able to speak English, or at least have someone who can.
And unless you push them to speak in the HC language, they WILL speak English to you as a foreigner.
Not to mention the fact that all signs, all automated voices, etc. will be at least bi-lingual.

Even if you're already fluent or native-like, you'll still need to push them into HC language mode.
The simple reason is mathematics.
If you're in an area with about 100,000 foreigners or foreign looking people on a daily basis, 99,000 of which are foreign tourists, 900 are IE with little to no knowledge to the HC language (or just basic if you're lucky), 90 can speak the HC language fluently or like a native, and 10 actually are native speakers and probably born in the HC too.

So how likely do you think the locals of that area will assume that you're a foreign tourist too?
And how likely is it that they will find it weird if you're very fluent?
But even if you successfully push them to speak in the HC language, they'll still go into baby talk mode for you, unless you're at least very fluent.
If you're an expact, you might find this convenient, considering you're planning on leaving the country after some time any way.
But if you're an immigrant (like me) who has made up your mind to spend the remainder of your life in your new country, this could be pretty disappointing.

You will probably notice that the further away you get from a major city, the more likely it is you will start to see everything transition from bi-, tri-, or quadlingual to just monolingual.
You'll also notice that the locals will be much more likely to speak in the HC language to you regardless of your looks and regardless of your language skills.
Plus the smaller community is more community-based, so it's easier to meet new people and actually become part of the community, rather than being just that 1 droplet in the bucket.
And the added bonuses are that rent is much lower, houses are more spacious, you get more space outside too, and depending on where you settle, the big city is still just 1 short train ride away.

This all however doesn't apply if you're moving to an English speaking country.
Simply because English is the defacto language of this planet, so the language they use towards foreigners is the same as what they use towards citizens.
An additional bonus is that in most of these countries, you can learn about any language thinkable from other IE.

"But big cities are where all the jobs are"!
"But companies don't want to hire you if you're far away"!

Well, not really!
In western countries, companies have already been allowing remote work depending on the employer.
Since the beginning of this year, there has been a huge increase of employers around the world (both west and everything else) actually becoming more open to the concept of working from whereever you want.
This is one thing positive thing about this fake pandemic; employers had no other choice than to give remote work a try.
Now they see that they were wrong all along, because employees are either just as productive or even more productive from home, employees enjoy way more time they previously wasted on commute, meetings, etc., and the employer saves a lot of money on not hiring a physical office space and not having to cover costs for commute.

As a result (in the case of Tokyo), there has been a record amount of people moving out of Tokyo into the countryside (or moving back to the countryside if they're not native to Tokyo).
This year was the first time in history that more foreigners moved into Tokyo than Japanese people.
Additionally, it's the first time in history that more people (both foreigners and citizens) moved out of Tokyo than in.
There are even recruiters now specialised in remote jobs, or jobs with a remote option!

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This was the last planned subject.
Expect every next chapter to come out irregularly from now on.

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Immigrante Chapter 4: The importance of hand gestures and body language

To live in a different country and to LL, you don't need to learn the hand gestures and/or body language of the HC.
However, it does make life much easier, especially in a country where words are not supposed to reflect true intention.
And if you master it, society around you will be more likely to consider you part of the society rather than an outsider.

Of course I can't cover all hand gestures and body language of all countries, so I'll provide examples of Japanese since I'm pretty familiar with those.
At the beginning when I was asked if I want to have chopsticks at the convenient store, I said "yes", and was understood as "no".
A few months later I found out that's because I said it at a lower tone (I have a low bass-like voice, しょうがないよー!!).
A few years later I found out that back then whenever I said "yes", I was unintentionally slightly waving with my hand in a diagonal direction.
In Japan, this is the equivelant to shaking your head in most of the world (except for Bulgaria for some reason, where shaking your head means "yes" instead of "no").

Words are deligate and polite, but body language is the real meaning.
Intelligence agencies worldwide are masters of recognising body language for a reason!

People who have been to Japan for any length of time have seen people crossing either their arms or fingers to form an × sign.
This means "not allowed" or "not OK" (or "NG" like we call the opposite of "OK" in Japanese), but it doesn't mean "no".
In fact, the "no" gestures is way more deligate than that, and I covered that one 2 paragraphes ago.

Of course bowing is a gesture you WILL see not only in Japan, but in all of east and south-east Asia as a whole.
It'll take quite a while to explain it.
But the good news is, most of you will probably already know the meaning of bowing, so thank goodness!

The only explanation about bowing left is which type you should use.
Because you bow differently when you just say "thank you for your time" than you bow for "I deeply regret what I've done, my deepest apologies".
The former is comparable to a lighter "yes" gesture in most of the world (and "no" for Bulgaria, why Bulgarians...), while the latter is practically a 90 degrees rotation of the top half of your body, and probably stay in it for a few seconds.
Probably 80 or 70 degrees if you're fat.

So while not required, you might want to learn gestures to at least some extend.
Your HC is the country you want to make home after all!
Unless of course if you're an expat, tourist, or some other type of temporary figure, but this series is called "Immigrante".

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  • 1 month later...

Immigrante Chapter 5: Regrets of moving to a different country, what to do about it?

No country is perfect.
Moving to a different country is a huge decission, and so is moving back to your own country.
People around the world have the habit of travelling to different countries and exploring all they have to offer, if you have this habit, awesome!

But there comes a time when you visit a country which you end up loving so much, you want to come back again and again, until you finally decide to stay.
Sometimes you come for the 2nd time with the purpose of applying for residency status.
Sometimes you never apply for residency status, and instead come in with a very broad budget and maybe a location independent job, and go border hopping and stay for as long as a tourist visa legally allows you to.
Sometimes you get paid to come in illegally.
Sometimes you have no other choice than to move to a different country (state of war, or you get the death sentence for something you didn't do, or maybe you did, etc.).

But however you're staying in a different country, you will experience a time when you feel like everything around you is fake, people are horrible, nobody wants to know you, you can't understand anything, you don't trust anyone and anything, you miss your family and/or friends, etc.
This is part of moving to a different country, literally every IE experiences it at some point within their 1st year.
Many give up and move back, some remain strong and stay, and few even end their lives.

The good news is, this is all temporary.
This is what I call the "regret phase" of moving to a different country.

Moving to a different country comes in 3 phases:

  1. Paradise phase
  2. Regret phase
  3. Home sweet home phase

In the paradise phase, everything seems awesome, your new country is a million times better than your original country in every aspect.
Your new country is full of excitement and adventure, etc.
This is the phase you'll get as soon as you leave the airport after being through hours of customs and getting your luggage, and eventually getting mentally destroyed by jetlag if you came from far away.
This is the phase that every short term visitor will have and keep, considering the amount of time they spend.
Normally this phase ends between 1 and 6 months later, depending on the person.

In the regret phase, it's the polar opposite of paradise phase.
I already explained this feeling a few paragraphes back, so I won't say it again.
This phase begins immediately after the paradise phase, and ends between 2 weeks and 4 months later.
Again depending on the person.

If you keep it up to the very end, you'll get to the home sweet home phase.
At this point you understand the realities of both the good and the bad, you'll feel comfortable in your new country, you understand more, your biological clock got adjusted, etc.
Now you'll get this weird feeling that whenever you go back to your home country for a week or so, you'll feel like being in a foreign country, but in a sense of you know everything, yet you don't know anything.

Congratulations!
The foreign country is now unofficially your home country!
And your home country is now unofficially your foreign country!
That is, until you naturalise to your new home country, then you can make this official too.

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Immigrante Chapter 6: Socialist lockdown or not, you have one advantage other learners don't. Use it!

Depending on the country you live in, you might be back in yet another socialist lockdown, a half lockdown, no lockdown with propaganda, or no lockdown at all.
Those are no "covid lockdowns", lockdowns have proven to be more dangerous to your health than freedom of movement.
It's not a pandemic if nobody is dying from it, and the only way of knowing you even have it is by using PCR test kits, the original developer of it even warned to not use it because it doesn't work.

Facts of which hard, undenyable evidence can be found literally everywhere aside, whether you're forced into your home or not, if you live in the country of the language you're learning, you have many advantages compared to other learners of the same language.
But one I want to talk about here is multimedia access.

If you move to a new country, you probably want to work in a company to make money, and then spend it in pubs with your fellow IE, and travel and explore the country itself.
As fun as that is, you won't learn the language at all that way.
Plus your habits of speaking English with fellow IE won't help either.
So make use of your geographical location for LL instead!!

Yes, you can access foreign multimedia through the internet from almost anywhere on this planet, but believe it or not, it's way easier to do so while in your new country.
Google and YouTube both have a filter bubble, it's well known, well documented, and Google themselves even admitted to it.
DuckDuckGo has a switch that allows you to search for either domestic results or universal results, there's not really a way to change it without a VPN.
Twitter will serve content based on your geolocation (and political believes).
And don't even get me started on Fakebook, they just know where you are, regardless of how hard you try to hide or manipulate it.

I've found so many Japanese YouTubers, Twitter users, Japanese websites even I didn't even know they'd exist before I came to Japan.
This has been evident before I moved to Japan, because I used to travel to countries throughout western Europe and parts of eastern Europe a lot.
I always found new online content from these countries while in those countries.
I'll explain how to make optimal use of these content to learn a new language in the next chapter.

There is 1 exception to this, and that is with English.
Because it's English, the language of planet Earth.
So English language content can be found in any country.
Except for China and North Korea, but I guess you can figure out yourself about those.

Whether you're an IE or not, try to find YouTubers, websites, other kind of media, etc. in the language you're trying to learn.
Because in the next chapter I'll explain you how to make use of them, no prior language skills required!

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Immigrante Chapter 6.5: How to use free online and offline materials to learn a language?

As a follow up chapter, I'll now explain how you can use free online materials to learn a language as promised.
But since this is Immigrante, I'll add offline to the mix too, as this is an essential acceleration.

Without paying anything, what do you already have online?

  • YouTube (or any other video platform like Niconico, Billibilli, LBRY/Odysee, Bitchute, just to name a few).
  • Blogs.
  • Company websites or personal portfolios.
  • SNS (Twitter, Fakebook, Parler, Mastodon (my favourite right now is Pawoo), Gab, Instagrandma, Mixi, and so on).
  • Search engines (Google, DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Bing/Yahoo, etc.).

If you're living in the country of your target language, what do you already have offline?

  • TV (including both fakenews and entertainment).
  • Magazines, comics, novels, fakenewspapers, etc. (those cost money, but in some countries nobody will stop you if you just stand and read).
  • Road signs (focus on those with writings on them).
  • Restaurant menus (avoid English menu, unless you actually intend on learning English in a non-Asian country).
  • Announcements in stores, train stations, etc.

Here comes the shocker: did you know that (with the exception of magazines/comics/novels) free materials are actually more effective than paid?
Because most of what I provided in the 2 lists are only available in the target language, and they're made for the local people.
Of course the online materials have multiple languages, but nothing is stopping you from filtering out the languages you're not learning.

If you're using YouTube or a different video platform, find 1 or 2 YouTubers that actually speak, preferrably those that speak throughout the videos all the time.
Make sure the YouTubers are of about the same age range and same gender as you are, and make sure they are entertaining.
This is important, because you'll be listening to their voices, and if you listen to them for a long time at very many times, you'll end up mimicking their voices too in the long run.
So make sure you want to sound just like them, something must be terribly wrong if you're a young man sounding like an elderly woman for example!
Listen to them as much as possible.
If you have a busy schedule, just download an entire playlist or channel they have, convert to MP3, put them on your phone, and listen offline all the time.
It adds up a lot.
When you have the time to listen, try to catch words, and imagine its meaning (not translate, that's something different).
If you don't, just listen without paying attention, that way you're training your ears and brain to understand the language naturally.

As for other online sources, read, read, read, and read!
Look up what you want to know in the target language, read what you get multiple times until you understand it.
Therefore, only read texts that consist of only a few sentences at the beginning, and work yourself up to more text and more complex sentences.
You'll be amazed by how quickly you'll start to understand!
However, reading is always harder to accomplish than listening, so my advise is to start off with listening only, and then add reading once you feel like you can understand the spoken language well enough.
On top of that, the amount of language that exists in spoken language is generally far, far, far less than what exists in written language.
To be honest, I made this mistake myself too for a very long time, which resulted in knowing how to read the language, but I was literally brain dead once I had to listen to a sentence longer than 6 words, and I had to write the sentence out in order to understand it.

As for offline resources, threat them the same as the online resources, with without internet (and without search).
Of course the spoken content is what you should start with, but you'll be amazed by how much you can gain from things like "You are here", "turn right", or "caution".
As I already said, avoid English menu's.
What abount bilingual ones (local language with an English translation)?
Once you see the following menu's in Russian and Chinese, you'll immediately see why you should avoid that as well:
3.jpg (480×640)

unnamed.jpg (768×1024)

Not too helpful right?

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