How Guided Immersion Helped me Learn a Language in Record Time

By OptiLingo

For the past decade, I’ve worked as an endangered language activist, working to preserve and promote my ethnic language, Circassian.

I’ve traveled the world, teaching thousands of students to speak, read and write Circassian. Over that time, I’ve figured out how to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to learn a language, cutting it literally in half.

I’ve come to call my method Guided Immersion, and it’s literally helped to save a dying language.

I know I’m not the only person interested in this topic, but I’d argue I’m probably the most motivated guy in the field for one simple reason: if I failed, my language would die, and my cultural heritage would fade from existence.

As time went on, I was curious as to whether my approach would work with other languages.

As luck would have it, a few years ago, I had a chance to find out. Spoiler alert: it worked!

In the Summer of 2016, I decided to visit a place called Abkhazia. Depending on whom you ask, this is either an independent nation-state with a strong relationship with the Russian Federation, or a renegade, break-away region of Georgia that is occupied by Russian forces.

I’m not going to get into the politics of any of that, but I decided to go there because I have family who decided to relocate to Abkhazia.

Because about half of Abkhazia is comprised of non-Abkhazians, Russian is the dominant language. So I took it upon myself to learn Russian, and I gave myself about four weeks to do it.

At this point you might be thinking that this is the place in the story where I tell you that I’m some amazing polyglot who was able to master Russian in a few short weeks.

Or you might expect me to claim that I spoke amazing, fluent Russian, or that I found the discipline to force myself to study every day for a few hours.

None of that was the case.

I’ll get to my results in just a moment, but first let me explain how I tested Guided Immersion’s ability to teach me Russian in a short amount of time.

As you may know, I’m a language preservation activist. I help to preserve and promote endangered and dying languages. From previous work in language preservation, I had developed a core list of about 500 vocabulary words and 1,000 common phrases.

With the help of some friends, I translated these materials into Russian and organized these phrases into 20 lessons that included 50 phrases each. Working Monday through Friday, I completed each lesson over the course of a month using the following approach:

  • Each day, I would read 50 phrases in Russian, out loud, slowly.
  • I then looked at the English translation and internalized the meaning.
  • On some days, as an option, I would practice writing out key vocabulary.
  • I did this for all 50 phrases, then do a quick review from the top of the list.

Each following day, I would review what I learned during the previous four days, so every “chunk” of 50 phrases would be reviewed five times over five days. I decided to take weekends off, in part to avoid burn-out, and in part because weekends are for family time.

This approach may sound simple, and even a bit underwhelming, but this is an example of Guided Immersion and it’s Spaced Repetition System (SRS) in action. It’s a focus on high-frequency words and ultra-useful phrases.

So what were the results? Well, my Russian wasn’t pretty. My accent was lousy, and I made a ton of mistakes.

But guess what? I was able to travel through all of Abkhazia on my own, without the aid of a translator and make myself understood.

As ugly and miserable as my Russian was, the fact that I was able to navigate myself, understand what others said to me, and make myself understood after only about four weeks of study is a pretty positive outcome.

I felt confident and powerful enough to continue my efforts to improve my Russian.


Journey is About to Begin

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that when I began my journey, I had no idea where it was going to take me. Eventually, it took me to a place I could never have imagined: fluency in the language of my dreams.

If you’re considering learning a new language, I’m guessing this is not the first time in your life you have done that.

You have a big advantage over me as you start your journey. You’ve got a clear vision of the language you want to learn, and you can count on Guided Immersion to help get you there.

I’ve spoken with many people who have attempted to learn a language before, but have quit out of discouragement.

As a result, they are gun-shy about giving it another chance using the same strategy that failed to work before. I don’t blame them. That would be a colossal waste of time.

Here’s what they tell me are the reasons they’re hesitant to give it another shot. Maybe you are feeling some of these same things.

“I don’t have time to learn another language.”

Hey, I get it. We’re all very busy, and anything worth doing is worth doing right.

“I don’t want to pay a lot of money to learn a new language.”

Again, I hear you. We all work very hard for our paychecks and sometimes there’s not a lot to spare. When we decide to spend, we want value in exchange.

“Learning a new language is too difficult.”

It can be, that’s for sure. Based on your personal experience with a complicated learning system, you may have even come to the conclusion that you’re bad at learning languages. But I would say it’s far more likely the teaching method you used was flawed.

“Learning a new language is boring.”

Yes, studying can be boring, but learning a language with a good system is fun and exciting.

“I don’t have the discipline to learn a new language.”

You know what? Everybody lacks discipline. We’re all at least a little bit lazy. And that includes the world’s most successful people. In fact, this is exactly why they develop and use systems that remove discipline from the process.

There are plenty of options out there for you if you want to learn a new language. But OptiLingo’s Guided Immersion method is the only one developed by someone passionate enough about language learning to teach himself one of the most complicated languages on earth. Once you get started with the OptiLingo system, I guarantee you will not be discouraged and want to quit. In fact, you’ll wish you had started sooner.

Maybe you can picture yourself on a plane headed toward a country where they speak the language you just learned. Knowing you’ll be able to communicate with the locals from day one fills you with a “can’t wait” excitement.

Perhaps you can imagine yourself driving to the home of a loved one or friend who has no idea you have been learning their native language. Realizing you’ll be able to communicate with them in their native tongue for the first time gives you a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Maybe you can look to a future in which you have moved up the corporate ladder at your job because you became bilingual, or even multilingual.

Or perhaps you can ponder the moment when it becomes obvious that learning another language has increased your mental capacity and expanded your horizons.

No matter why you’ve chosen to learn another language, get started on that exciting journey as soon as possible.

The simple truth is that learning a language is not hard. With the right system, you can do it.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s just what happens when you use a system focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Fortunately, OptiLingo’s Guided Immersion is just that system.