Frequently Asked Questions
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Not at all. This belief has been debunked both in research and in practice. Well-known polyglot, Steve Kaufmann, continues to learn new languages in his 70s. This is because our adult minds give us many advantages over babies and children when it comes to language acquisition. We can use various tools and techniques to accelerate our progress. In addition, since we have already learned one language before (our first language), we do not have to spend as much time in a new language to make the same progress that a child would. With the Refold method, you will be speaking like an adult in your target language in 1-2 years. Compare this to a 4-year-old child who has been receiving input constantly and yet still sounds like a child.
Immersion is the act of consuming media and content in the language you’re trying to learn, also called your Target Language. As long as it’s made by natives for natives in the original language without any subtitles or translations from your native language, it’s immersion. This is different from the traditional idea of language immersion where a person travels to the country where their target language is used and lives their everyday life in that language. Using the Refold method, we create an environment that mimics the experience of living in the target language country using media. Immersion is also commonly referred to as “input.”
Comprehensible input is content that is made specifically so that it can be understood without knowing the language. A good example of comprehensible input would be a video of someone pointing to the different parts of a face using their finger and saying the names of the parts out loud. You may not know the word for “nose” in your target language, but you will know that a nose is being talked about when the person in the video points to it.
Think of a domain as a small section of the language that will contain certain vocabulary. Examples of domains include “everyday conversation”, “cooking instructional videos”, or “Yakuza slang.” Choosing a domain that interests you is an efficient way to break the language down into more manageable pieces.
Tolerating ambiguity means that you accept not being able to understand everything. This is an important skill to learn during the language acquisition process, especially as a beginner. Because the truth is, you will not understand a lot. Make peace with this and know that it will get better.
Active immersion is when you are fully focused on the content you are consuming with the intent to understand. Your attention isn’t divided between other tasks. Watching TV shows, movies, YouTube, or reading novels would be considered active immersion.
Passive immersion is anything that does not have your full attention. Your attention is divided between other tasks such as doing laundry, exercising, cooking, driving, washing dishes, etc. Taking advantage of passive immersion is an excellent way to fill in gaps in your day with your target language that would otherwise be dead air or native language content. Passive immersion is sometimes also referred to as “semi-active immersion.”
Apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, etc. are not recommended because the methodology is completely counter to what Refold recommends. These resources base their instruction around constructing sentences from grammar rules, memorizing vocabulary in a specific order, and using questionable translations and low-quality text-to-speech software instead of audio recordings of native speakers. These resources are not built with the Refold methodology in mind, and therefore will offer little to no benefit to your immersion learning journey.
We don’t recommend textbooks for a lot of the same reasons that we don’t recommend apps such as Duolingo. Textbooks are not written in a way that aligns with Refold methodology and will reinforce traditional learning habits, which is not ideal or efficient. Purchasing a textbook just to ignore the majority of it is also not in your best interest.
That depends. You can approach this in two ways.
Watch content that is very easy. This would be content that is specifically made for learners or native children. This works for people who are motivated by high comprehension, which keeps them engaged. The content itself doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they can follow along.
Watch content that you are interested in, regardless of how much you understand. With this approach, it’s easier to lose yourself in the content to the point that you don’t feel like you’re studying. This works for people who are motivated by the nature of the content itself and get bored by the easier content. You can hack this approach by rewatching a show that you’ve watched before in your native language. This way, you are already familiar with the story and the contents of the dialogue, so not understanding isn’t an issue.
Generally, using target language subtitles also helps with comprehension. Some people find that they’re too distracting. However, if that’s not the case for you, they are highly encouraged in the early stages of Refold.
For beginners, a general rule of thumb is to only pause to do lookups every 3-5 minutes.
Also, here is something a little more concrete. Only pause to do a lookup if one or all of the following criteria are met:
- The word sounds familiar
- The word sounds important
- The word sounds interesting