Many of us want to learn a new language. But instead of taking steps to achieve this goal, we do nothing. One common excuse is that we don’t have enough time. Sure, life can be busy, and often we get home from work and have no energy. But the truth is it’s more than possible to learn a language if you’re busy. We are all given the same amount of time in a day. The key is how we view and use this time.
Instead of dedicating chunks of time to learn - an obstacle for many -, we should include language learning into our daily schedules. Indeed, this is what many experts recommend.
Use “dead-time”, like your commute to work, waiting for meetings, or even toilet breaks. Sure it may only be 15 minutes here or there, but over a day, week, or month, this adds up. Before you know it you’ll have hours of studying under your belt, without even trying.With that in mind here are 12 productivity hacks to learn a language if you’re busy. These techniques won’t work for everyone, so test to see what works for you.
1. Listen to Audio
This is a great way to learn the target language if you’re tired. So pop in some headphones on your commute to work. Listen to music, audio files or even Glossika mass sentences. Make use of Spotify, YouTube, and podcasts.You can also listen to the audio before you go to bed. Many recommend this as it allows your brain to process information during the night.But, If you’re feeling brave, why not turn your alarm into a language learning tool.
2. Wake up to Your Target Language
There are several alarms that let you set up voice memos. Wake Up Babe wakes you up to the voice of your loved one, with romantic music in the background. Make sure the sounds are in the target language. With Android, use Recording Alarm Clock and Voice Alarm.If you’re feeling lazy forget about downloading apps and record voice memos instead. You can add these voice memos as alarms with Itunes.If an early morning dose of language learning via your alarm clock sounds tiring, try Flashcards.
Flashcards are portable and convenient if you want to learn a language on the go. Place flashcards in areas you frequent, like your desk or fridge door. If you want to go digital, switch to flashcard apps; ideal when you’re on your commute.
Self-talk isn't as powerful as one-on-one conversation, but it works for forming sentences and revising phrases. All you need for this technique is yourself.
5. Instant Messaging
Texting is a common form of communication. We do it over platforms like SMS, Whatsapp, and WeChat. Instead of texting in your first language, start doing it in your target language.Find a language partner on Hello Talk or Lang-8 and use instant messages to learn the language. Whilst you can use this technique during the day, be careful it doesn’t impact workplace productivity. Regardless of how busy you are, it’s important to schedule time for conversation.
6. Schedule Time With Your Tutor
We learn better through immersion. This is why one-on-one conversations are essential for language learning. But when scheduling time with a tutor, plan in advance, as it requires a larger chunk out of your busy schedule. Although, 30 min is often all you need and that's not a lot. Rype is an app that allows you to learn a language with one-on-one tutoring, even if you’re busy.
7. Watch T.V. or Videos In the Foreign Language
Whilst T.V. can be a distraction - that’s why I rarely watch T.V. nowadays - if you decide to watch T.V., watch in the foreign language. As with audio, it’s a great way to absorb content without effort.But remember to watch something you’re interested in. Nothing kills motivation more than watching something you don’t enjoy.
8. Walking Commentary
If the above methods don’t work, become a storyteller. As you walk, start commenting on what’s happening around you in the target language. It’s like self-talk, only more fun.
9. Carry a Notebook
Are you someone who prefers the written word? Use a notebook to recall things in the target language. If that doesn't work for you, try reading.
10. Read Children’s Books
If you want to have more fun with your language learning, revisit those children books on Amazon. You can buy e-books, audio-books or both (if you’re like me who prefers a combination of written words and audio).This is great in the evening before you go to bed. If you want to get your child involved, start reading bedtime stories. It’s a triple whammy. You’ll be spending quality time with your child, they’ll love you for it, and you’ll learn a new language.
Aside from children’s books, there are other fun ways to help you learn a language if you’re busy.
11.Change Your State
Are you currently taking a gym, yoga, or cooking class? Why not find someone who can teach these classes in your target language? After all the first step in changing your mindset is to change your state.
12. Memorize 10 Common Words Each Day
Before you go to bed write down a list of 5-10 basic words you want to learn tomorrow. Throughout the day when you have a minute to spare, look at the words and recall them.Better yet, sign-up for Rype’s learn a new language challenge. You’ll get the 10 most common words delivered to your inbox every morning. You'll understand 85%+ of your target language in 100 days.
Tying This Together
That's how you learn a language if you’re busy and it's not as hard as you thought. Sure you may have limited time, but if you approach it the right way, you’ll be learning a new language in no time. Make use of dead time. Find fun ways to include language learning into your daily schedule. These small amounts add up, and before you blink, you'll have made exponential progress.
What productivity hacks do you use to learn a language if you’re busy?