Immersion - The golden Graal of learning

Immersion - The golden Graal of learning

One of the most important element of learning is immersion, what I define as surrounding yourself with practical applications of what you want to learn. This way training your brain to get more familiar with the patterns. To understand why it is important and how is it helpful, we need to make a step back and explain some concepts first.

Big part of our learning is subconscious

Why learning programming or to speak another language takes so long? All you need to know to start programming can be fitted in a single book. We need to spend enough time programming or reading code, because most of the knowledge is actually subconscious and cannot be explained. A few examples of such knowledge:

  • Recognizing and understanding words - keywords and functions in programming (if, while, class, filter), words in language, operations in mathematics, biological structures and elements in biology - they all can be explained, but understanding them requires seeing them in use in many concepts, and where they cannot be used.
  • Recognizing patterns - algorithms and patterns in programming, grammar and stylistic in language, common ways how equations can be solved in mathematics.
  • Seeing the importance - learning what is important in practice and what is not.
Example: >A great experiment showing the power

As you see, many things cannot be learned using classic methods. They need practice and exposure. Immersion give us both.

Immersion - increased exposure to a discipline you want to learn

By immersion, we mean conscious exposure to what we want to learn. Surrounding yourself with it. This technique is especially known for its use fullness in languagee learning, but we will see it is very helpful in other disciplines as well.

Immersion in language learning

We can use immersion for language learning by surrounding ourselves with the language. Here are a few examples:

  • When you learn the names of furniture in another language, you can use stick notes to label all the furniture in your house.
  • Read books, watch TV, listen to the radio in this other language.
  • You can switch the language in your phone or computer.
  • Find occasions to use this language both in text and in speech.

It is important to immerse to a level you can operate on, to not get overwhelmed. If you can’t understand a movie in this other language, add subtitles in your own language. If the book is too hard for you, choos an easier one (even a child book). More about it in the Choose proper depth.

Immersion in programming, medicine, chemistry and everything else

Immersion can be used in all the disciplines and we should not forget about it. Let’s see a few examples from totally unrelated areas.


  • Read code and get interested about how things work pragmatically (I started programming as a child with a fascination with how games are made)


  • Make chemical experiments
  • Make something fun for you using chemistry, like detergent, paint or fireworks (under adult supervision)
  • Watch movies about great chemists and great chemical discoveries


Rock climbing:

Choose proper depth

Full body immersion is rarely a good idea. Comprehensible input - what you Understand + a bit more - Przeprowadzanie eksperymentów - Jak się uczysz chemii, rób eksperymenty - Otoczenie się / Obserwacja dziedziny - Przyroda - wyjście i obserwacja lasu, wyjście do ZOO, filmy przyrodnicze - Zwracanie uwagi na przydatność wokół nas - to raczej naturalne niemniej ważne aby wypatrywać za dziedziną w życiu

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Marcin The author of the Effective Kotlin and Android Development in Kotlin books, founder of the Kt. Academy and Learning-Driven, programming trainer, speaker at international conferences, experienced developer.
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