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Is this sentence correct:

In order to learn a language, best practice is to be exposed to that language via movies or talking in person.

Can I use "be exposed to" for positive things? If not, which word is the best alternative?

3
  • 15
    Yes, your example is fine.
    – GEdgar
    Mar 15, 2022 at 10:17
  • 2
    Raw data: 51 000 000 hits on Google for "exposed to the benefits of". Mar 15, 2022 at 19:11
  • 5
    More like 20 results. Click on the second page and it's empty
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 15, 2022 at 21:20

2 Answers 2

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Although some uses of expose relate to negative consequence, there are many examples of its use in circumstances with positive outcomes. For example:

Cambridge

Expose:
to create conditions that allow someone to have the opportunity to learn or experience new things:
Kate was exposed to new ideas when she went to college.

expose somebody/oneself to something:
Some expose themselves to the equity market only indirectly, through insurance and pension plans.

One alternative would be to change
best practice is to be exposed to that language …
to
best practice is to experience that language…

Cambridge
experience: transitive verb
if you experience something, it happens to you or affects you

1
  • Is bask in appropriate here? Nov 9, 2022 at 14:12
9

To rephrase, the Question asks whether the object of the passive form of "exposed" can be a positive benefit or whether it is limited to injury or something negative.

Both positive and negative are widely used

Positive example:

If you have the chance to be exposed to a loving, understanding environment where the seed of compassion, loving kindness, can be watered every day, then you become a more loving person.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Neutral example:

The paradox is really the pathos of intellectual life and just as only great souls are exposed to passions it is only the great thinker who is exposed to what I call paradoxes, which are nothing else than grandiose thoughts in embryo.

— Soren Kierkegaard

Ambiguous example:

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

— Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson's ambiguity is deliciously thought-provoking, so the hearer may decide whether the discussed objects are positive or negative based on one's personal worldview. This is closer to your purpose, which is to inform and provoke thought.

This question is valuable

Many times, usage often seems negative. From this website, many examples are negative and almost scary and they are not grouped into examples of positive or negative objects of the verb, but only examples of use in sentences...

From sentencedict.com:

  1. Yet potentially the bank may still be exposed to much of those loans' credit risk.
  2. They concluded that she would be exposed to great danger from a splinter of flax.
  3. Worried parents fretted that their children would be exposed to X-rated happenings.
  4. Unshielded, an astronaut could be exposed to hundreds of rads during a solar flare.
  5. The batteries should not be exposed to excessive heat or cold temperatures, or exposed to moisture.
  6. to be exposed to infection.
  7. This medicine is not to be exposed to daylight.

Elsewhere on SE

Different, but related is a Question on ELL about the meaning of "be exposed to". That could provide some additional context, mainly clarifying that "be exposed to" can take an object with a positive benefit. Many examples in Answers there us positive/beneficial objects of this verb "exposed".

Here is one example from an Answer:

A child exposed to music at an early age may become a musician.

It may be the best choice

The OP also asks whether this is a good choice of words. I think it is best for the topic of this particular sentence.

As a certified ESL teacher with over a decade of experience, I have found that your statement is also true for the TESOL teaching approach. I have noticed that people in Taiwan who did not attend ESL school not traveled to English-speaking territories, but watched many movies in English, often had an English advantage over those who only studied in a classroom.

The philosophy presented in your sentence may seem counter-intuitive to many, which also has been my experience. Your choice of "exposed to" helps to provoke thought, just as Thomas Jefferson did.

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