Monday, August 12, 2019

How to Learn a Language If You're Busy by Sienna Walker

In the modern culture of lifelong-learning, we all have so many things we’d like to master, with a language being one of the more ambitious pursuits. Unfortunately, we don't always end up succeeding in this endeavor.

The number one reason that people fail to set learning goals and take steps towards achieving them is that they feel as though their schedule prevents them from doing so. Sometimes it is just an excuse, but if you live a hectic and busy lifestyle, it might, in fact, be true! Learning a whole new language can take a lot of time, and how will you find and devote that time if you're juggling so much? You'll do it the same way everyone else does – by optimizing your life and making time to achieve your language learning goals.

Create a Functional Schedule

Many people with hectic lifestyles don’t adhere to strict schedules. It can be hard when things seem to be constantly moving – most of the time, it feels easier to go with the flow. Record everything you do for a week. Use that as a template to create a functional schedule. Pick one or two days a week where language learning can be realistically inserted into your schedule. It might come at the expense of eliminating something less productive.

Depending on what your schedule looks like, you might not be able to devote yourself to language learning on the same days of every week. For example, if you take martial arts classes or have a gardening club that meets every other Thursday, it might help to schedule language learning alternating between Tuesdays and Thursdays. What matters most is that you put in the same amount of time – not necessarily that you do it on the same day every week.

Automate Where You Can

Taking some things out of your schedule will undoubtedly free up some time. If you can automate making dinner every night by meal prepping at the beginning of the week, it’s easy to find an extra half an hour every day. Creating a chore chart or list of responsibilities for everyone in your household will keep you from doing more than your fair share, freeing up some additional time.

Some busy people prefer to order their groceries online and have them delivered. It's easy to get lost in the grocery store for an hour, and that hour is time you could be spending learning a language. If you can afford to have your food delivered to you, even if it is only once or twice a week, it will free up a lot of your time you can spend mastering the language of your choosing.

Scale Back on Bad Habits 

Perhaps you're making your life seem much more hectic than it is. Consider how you may be misappropriating your time, and be honest.

Do you tend to aimlessly scroll through social media? Or maybe you still keep watching the season 11 of that one show which lost its edge and luster a long time ago, only because you feel like you are forced to?

It may be a fun way to waste some time, but wasted time is ultimately still wasted.

Do you get sucked into binge-watching numerous shows – especially ones your friends are begging you to watch? Do you spend tens of hours a week playing video games, just because you feel there is nothing better to do?

Step away from Netflix. Disconnect your gaming system. Such things might be fun for a moment, but they are wasted hours and, in retrospect, you will wish you had given them up in favor of learning and achieving excellence. 

There's nothing wrong with decompressing or finding comfort in something familiar and fun, but saving those habits as a reward for completing a language learning session will keep you on track with your goals.

Use Your Downtime Wisely 

Consider where your downtime is. For many people, their commute is a large source of downtime. If you don’t language learning apps while you get from point A to point B.
drive while you commute, you can use

If you drive, you can listen to language learning lessons or podcasts instead of the radio. You can do the same thing in waiting rooms or when you arrive somewhere early.

Sneaking in ten minutes here or there over the day can cumulatively become an hour of language learning before you go to sleep at night. Just make sure you're paying attention during your brief learning bursts – run through the material in your head when you can and remind yourself throughout the day to help the knowledge sink in.

Learn at Your Own Pace 

You don't necessarily need to enroll in classes or meet with a language tutor if your schedule doesn't allow for it. Many programs allow people to learn at their own pace, including software and smartphone apps. Online courses and eLearning programs typically have deadlines. You can complete the assignments or lessons whenever you have a moment, as long as they're done before that deadline. Putting some flexibility in your language learning can help you work it in whenever you can – whether it's 6 AM or 11 PM.

If you want to learn a new language, all you need is commitment and dedication. You may not have the time to go the traditional route, but you don’t need to. If you’re eager enough, you’ll achieve your goals.

Sienna Walker is an experienced tutor, an avid traveller from Australia, and a languages lover. She also has an unquenchable love for writing and might often be found online, sharing her tips for career improvement and learning. Feel free to visit her Twitter and say "hi".

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