Remember Aaliyah? The great 90s pop icon who died an untimely death in a plane crash in Barbados? A few years before her death, Aaliyah released a hit song called, Try Again. And this song can teach us a deep lesson about becoming native-level fluent in any language you want.
The chorus went a lil something like this:
*grabs diamond choker, diamond bra, and baggy pants, then cues music*
If at first you don’t succeed (first you don’t succeed),
Dust yourself off, and try again
You can dust it off and try again, try again
If there’s any way that we become native-fluent in any language, it’s that simple. We get up, scrape the sleep out of our eyes, push through our boredom and frustration, and we brush ourselves off, and we try again. And again. And again. And if we try long enough, we reach fluency. Plain and simple.
Unfortunately, when we’re in the thick of balancing Arabic immersion with the demands of everyday life, it doesn’t feel that simple.
For the past 3 months, my life has a thrown a huge wrench in my ability to immerse in Arabic for as many hours as I’d like. For me, it’s been that: I left my job with the intention of heading to grad school. I started packing up my apartment, saying bye to friends, arranging details with moving companies, finding a new apartment, and planning flights. At the same time, I started an internship. And then out-of-the-blue I got an incredible job offer from the company I was interning with. Amazingly, this was the same job I would’ve gotten out of grad school. So I dropped grad school. And now I’m moving across the country in the span of the next 3 weeks!
Phew! I’m tired just thinking about all of that. Where does Arabic fit in again?
With everything going on, I knew that I needed a healthy dose of inspiration this week to get back on track. The kind of inspiration that embodied Aaliyah’s Try Again! mentality. So I interviewed my friend Rose Gold — a native-level Chinese speaker — and the only person I personally know who has used immersion to gain native-level in a challenging target language. And trust me, when I say native-level, that’s exactly what I mean. I’ve seen Rose Gold in action. We’ve been friends since college, and for about a year, we both lived in Beijing at the same time. Chinese people were so confused about how Rose Gold was exactly like them in language ability, accent, and mannerisms, and yet grew up in Colorado, USA, wherever that was.
You’re going to love this interview. The questions we address are:
- How did you find the AJATT immersion method when you were in high school? Why did you decide to follow through with this intensive immersion method?
- How do you immerse even when you have to spend the majority of your time in non-target language environments? (i.e. school, work, etc.)
- Do you truly need a strong immersion foundation to start speaking well? Or can you start speaking well without much immersion?
- What is the value of study abroad programs?
- How long does it actually take to reach fluency?
- What self-study tools and resources do you definitely need to have in order to be successful in your immersion?
- Depending on my personality and location, what is the best way to connect with a community of people who speak my target language?
- What advice do you have for anyone who is starting their self-study journey?
I can’t wait for you to watch this interview and gain the inspiration you need to find focus and energy in your immersion this week and to keep going to meet your goals. Let me know in the comments, below, what you think! Enjoy!