On the Go, In the Language: Introducing #indwelli

You’re stuck in line at the DMV. (In other words, you’re at the DMV.) How do you you use the time? Maybe you check Facebook. That’s fine—probably better than checking it when you’ve got time to do something else. Maybe you make a shopping list. Maybe you don’t “use” the time at all; maybe you just curse the State, Henry Ford, the calmness of the clerks, and the people holding numbers 1 to 153. Maybe you’re polite enough to throw in a little “Pardon my French” between curses.

Here’s an idea: What if you made it so there really was some French to pardon? What if you wrote that shopping list in French? What if you had set your Facebook language (the language in which it says “Home,” “Status,” “Add a Picture,” etc.) to French? What if every time they called a number, you muttered that number in French, or subtracted it from yours in French, to see how many people were still to go in French? What about a few well-tempered “zut alors!”?

With #indwelli on your mind, you might do all these things as a matter of course.


The #indwelli is a tip for how you can easily turn almost any situation into one where you are living in the language, with the result that the language increasingly lives in you.

If you have a teacher, a big part of your teacher’s job is to create situations where you are living in the language. But, even if you have the perfect teacher, you spend only a teensy percentage of your time with her. If you really want joy and success in your language learning, you’ll have to find your own situations where you can live in the language, and the easiest way to do that is to create such situations, and a great time to create such situations is when your time is being wasted.

But the #indwelli isn’t just for when you’re stuck in line or on the bus or in a staff meeting. While your language learning may involve some extended, focused activities, you also want a hoard of easy, quick habits you can engage in without feeling like you are missing or postponing other aspects of your life. In other words, you want ways of making the language a part of your life so that learning and living are simultaneous. #indwelli helps you do that.

If you’re stuck in that line or have a free minute at home and can’t think of an #indwelli off the top of your head, no problem: just check @IndwellingLang or #indwelli on Twitter, or click the #indwelli tag at the bottom of the sidebar of any post on this site, and pick whatever suits the occasion!

In addition to the tweet, many an #indwelli has a linked blog post here with further tips or variations. If you’re subscribed to new content notifications, you’ll be informed of these even if you don’t use Twitter.  (You can subscribe in the sidebar or the footer of this page.)

If you have your own #indwelli-esque idea, why not tweet it with hashtag #indwelli? You can also submit it using the Contact Form and we’ll tweet it.

Happy indwelling!


See also:

What Is Indwelling Language? or, A rarish word for a rarish thing

Tricks and Triggers for Opportunistic Language Learning

The Focused Filler, a Simple Language Learning Habit


Note 1: #indwelli for teachers
The usefulness of #indwelli for people trying to learn a language is pretty clear.  What about for teachers?
1. Most language teachers, especially ones who are not native speakers of the language, can still improve their own proficiency. #indwelli offers ways to do so even in the midst of a busy teaching schedule.
2. Teachers can recommend #indwelli to students for extra help, or even use #indwelli tasks as in-class and at-home activities.

Note 2: #indwelli and output vs input
Those of you who know much about how language acquisition works, either through research or experience, know that extensive input is key to acquiring more a of a language. So what’s with all the output involved in #indwelli?
Even if input is central to acquisition, output plays important roles in your language-indwelling life:
1. Demonstration: the output involved in #indwelli will help you prove to yourself how much language you have acquired.
2. Discovery: attempting #indwelli tasks will help you figure out what it is you still need to learn—not just words, but also ways of talking about and functioning in various situations.
3. Dexterity: Although language acquisition requires input, fluid production of the language requires building muscle memory in your vocal tract (for speaking) and in your hand and fingers (for writing), which both supports and benefits from the associated changes in your brain. #indwelli helps you build such muscle memory in short bursts.

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