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Part 2: Acquisition

2A Echoing Full Speech

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The process of acquiring new words is quite simple. You hear the sounds of the word in context, reproduce the movements that produced those sounds with your own mouth, and infer the meaning of the sound-movements from the context clues. Or put more succinctly - "watch, listen and mimic." As simple as this process is, however, most language learners are not able to engage it, because they can't perceive the sounds clearly enough, nor can they perform the movements accurately. Since they can't mimic by ear, they have to rely on words being spelled out for them on paper, which is both inefficient and less effective. Thankfully, you just spent 6 weeks fine-tuning your ears and mouth, so now you're ready to mimic full speech! If you recall from earlier modules, echoing is the act of listening to the speaker, stopping your listening, then repeating what was said exactly how it was said. You've already practiced echoing melody, now you're going to practice echoing full speech (i.e. melody + articulation). Find a Youtube video that has subtitles in both your native language and your target language, start on 50% speed, press play, then stop soon as you have a coherent chunk to mimic. While stopped, echo the sound with your voice multiple times, then press play again to move on and continue to the next. Don't worry about getting it 100% correct. The main goal is just to engage the audio, and to develop the skill and habit of echoing all the time. Spend at least 10 minutes practicing (recommend breaking into two sets of 4 minutes), then record yourself doing it for another 4 minutes, and send recording to #mimicry channel, along with a brief reflection on your experience.

2B Shadowing Full speech

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For echoing, you get to press the stop button and give yourself the space to practice echoing. But in real life there is no stop button, so you need to develop a capacity to run two tracks in the mind simultaneously - listening and mimicking. It will be frustrating at first trying to do two things at once, and you will certainly not be able to catch everything. But if you stay with the exercise, letting things go and not worrying about getting everything perfect, you will gradually get better at it. And the better you are at this skill, the better you will be at following along with natural speech. Spend 10 minutes practicing the exercise, using the same audio you used for the echoing activity (so you're already familiar). Then when you're ready, record a 3 minute video of yourself shadowing, and share to the #mimicry channel along with your reflection.

2C Extracting and Stacking Vocabulary from Media

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Using the same media you just practiced echoing and shadowing with, you are now going to go through and pull out key vocabulary and add them to a new stax spreadsheet. The goal is not to capture EVERY word, but only the most "salient" ones. "Salience" is about what's noticeable, prominent and important. There are three determinants for salience to consider here: (1) How important a role does this word play in the meaning of the whole sentence, and of the whole conversation? (the bigger the role, the more salient). (2) How much do you already recognize the word? (the closer to your boundary of recognition, the more salient). (3) How likely is the word to come up for you again in future conversations? (the more likely, the more salient). You also don't want to capture so many words that you overload your memory. Put as much on your plate as you can eat in one sitting, and remember the buffet will always be open for you to come back for more once you've finished your plate. While extracting words, be sure to continually mimic the full phrase context you're getting them from, to further engrain the movements and sounds. If you need, go to forvo.com to hear its pronunciation out of context, and if needed, wikitionary.com to confirm the sounds through the IPA transcription. Once you have your words, listen again to the audio, ignoring the subtitles, trying your best to catch the words in context, first at slow speed, then faster speed. By this point, it should be much easier to understand. When you're done, don't post anything. Just move on to the next exercise.

2D Generating More Sentences

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Once you have your words, you're going to repeat what you did in part 1 and create every possible character-action pair sentences in separate columns. Then you will practice speaking each possible pair, to practice networking and integrating all the new vocabulary. Once you have enough sentences, record yourself speaking them in your target language, trying to be as fast as you can to challenge your recall. Then post your recording to #meaning along with a reflection on the experience. One last time, listen to the original audio on full speed and see how well you can follow along compared to the beginning. Then feel free to repeat this process as many times as you want, and post yourself performing any exercise as many times as you want to slack.

BONUS Looping and Syncing Phrases from Media

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To more deeply ingrain these new expressions, you can import the audio of the media to audacity, use audacity's automation features to quickly produce loop audio, then practice syncing along with audio repeatedly until its deeply ingrained in your auditory and muscle memory. Watch the video below to see how I do it. Try the process for yourself on a few phrases, then when you feel like you have some phrases down, record yourself syncing with them and send to to #mimicry channel, along with your reflection.