The title of this post is a misnomer: I don’t know that you can both immerse yourself and avoid alienating your friends/family/roommates. But, you can help soften the blow somewhat. These are fun activities you can do with non-immersing people around you, who, as you may already be observing, can sometimes have very strange reactions to your immersion. I don’t get it — I’ve seen otherwise very cool guys become sobbing, emotional wrecks over me saying that I can’t go to a movie with them because it’s in English. Yeah…your guy friends become clingy, bipolar, high-maintenance wusspots. “Bros before hos”? Pssssh…my “bros” don’t make out with me!
1. Music videos
In Japanese, these are called “PV” (promotional videos); “MV” (music videos) in Chinese. Watch lots of music videos. There’s just something about the combination of music and visuals that can hold people’s attention for a really long time. People who would otherwise whine about you doing immersion in another language, somehow just get drawn in by music videos. So use them.
2. Watch L2 video with L1 subtitles
L1 would be English for most of you here, and L2 Japanese. Generally, I’m wary of the use of subs because they tend to create an illusion of comprehension, as well as (more importantly) distract from listening; I know plenty of rabid anime fans who’ve watched thousands of hours of subbed anime but don’t actually know Japanese.
But, for someone who’s not working on the language with you, watching L2 stuff can be a chore…unless and until you sub it up. So, when you have friends who don’t know, the subs don’t have to go.
3. Just Plain Music
Hey, it’s the universal language, right? Pick a style that everyone enjoys and play it up. Everyone will love Rip Slyme.
Make people a meal. With all that stuff in their mouth they won’t be able to whine and complain about you doing immersion. You can look up the recipe in Japanese and then execute. This means you get to learn food words, too! Snap!
5. The Enemy Within? Compromising with Yourself
I, too, am still partially human. I have seen the temptation in your heart. After all, MAD TV is good for you, right? Laughter’s the best medicine, right? So watching MAD TV is nothing less than a medical necessity, right? I mean, there’s a cancer called sadness and the only cure is more cowbell, uh, comedy…right? And there’s no Daily Show in Japanese so this is all there is to go on, right?
Cut the crap.
Stop making up lame-donkey, righteous-seeming excuses to slip back into your native language. 99.9% of the reasons for not immersing are bogus. Even “burn-out” is, IMHO, almost always bogus — you’re not “burned out”, you’re just “being lame”: you need to get more creative about the immersion process. Anyone who has the mental togetherness to pronounce themselves “burned out” is simply a whiner; when you’re really burned out you’ll be trembling uncontrollably and frothing at the mouth, so chill. Find new friends, find new materials. Currently I am constantly feeding myself a stream of new Cantonese content — new videos every day, a new batch of books every few weeks, new friends every week [mostly Skype — by the way, do you like how I talk about people as if they were a commodity?…maybe I’m the cancer of sadness]. No one’s going to turn the soil for you, so you’ve got to keep it fresh.
Two techniques I use to deal with the desire to slip back into English. Credit for the first must go to Timothy Ferris.
i) Put your computer on standby or lock the workstation or whatever. Then plan and write down the next thing you’re going to do on your computer before you do it. Then do it. When you’re done, put your computer back on standby/lock and repeat. In any case, never approach a computer, especially a computer with an Internet connection, without a written agenda . This does a number of things:
a) Prevents accidentally slipping into random surfing about domestic violence by women [apparently, women are…freaking hardcore]. While it is kind of cool to be so well-read on Erin Pizzey’s research, there are other things that needed and need my attention.
b) Requires you to think about the most important thing to do, and helps you do it. Often, the most important thing to do may be to get away from that screen for a change and read a book instead, or go play outside [armed with your trusty mp3 player, of course!]
c) Prevents you actively doing stupid, time-wasting things. Before implementing this, I would often click around my computer looking for amusement, and invariably that amusement would amount to meaningless googling or compulsive email-checking. There’s something about writing down what you’re going to do, before you do it, that just raises your accountability to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I’m embarrassed to have “surf random English websites” on my “record” as it were. So embarrassed — I know that Cantonese is my priority — that I stay immersed, i.e. away from English.
ii) 0.1% of the time, there is a legitimate reason for me to be reading English. The book Eat to Live, for example — there is no Japanese translation yet [showtime, Khatzumoto?], and I was reading this book for genuine, immediate, actionable medical reasons. At times like these, I play Japanese/Cantonese music or videos, while reading the English — very quickly.
And that concludes my tips! How have you dealt with keeping yourself immersed, and wusspotage from people close to you? Do share!