Learning a new language by a form of immersion called passive listening

Immersion is a commonly recommended technique to assist in learning a new language, but it is not very practical for anyone other than students or the independently wealthy. A way to simulate an aspect of immersion, passive listening, can be accomplished with foreign news sites. Passive listening, e.g. having the news on in the background, is often unmentioned when reading about learning languages. My best guess is that you need to hear a word 50 times or so before you can begin to develop an understanding of the word and an approximation of its pronunciation.

For example, to learn French, go to www.rfi.fr and download the half-hour news programs in .wmv files (Windows Media Player compatible). These can be loaded onto windows compatible players. iPod users can convert the files to .m4a or .mp3 using a conversion program, like RogueAmoeba's AudioHijackPro (for Mac OS).

I learned Italian through this process in 6 months. The trick is to let go of your apprehension and anxiety and just let the sounds flow into your brain. You will absorb and process the sounds without any effort. Sounds silly, but that's how children learn languages. Here's how my progress went

Month 1 -- could understand very few words
Month 2 -- first epiphany -- I can see the words as spoken
Month 3 -- about 50% comprehension; topic of conversation
Month 6 -- about 90% on the first pass, 100% on the second.

At the end of the 6th month, I took the Defense Language Proficiency Test for Italian and scored in the top categories for listening and reading.

In addition to the passive listening, I picked up an Italian newspaper a week and I'd read aloud a few articles. Sometimes, I'd consult a dictionary, but most times, I just read the articles aloud. I also took a basic class in Italian grammar, like a college level introductory course.