Language learning: Finding the time

One of the biggest problems with language learning is that it seems to take a long time.  Of course, if you want to become fluent in a language, it will take some time, as well as a lot of practice.  People are so busy these days that it’s no wonder they don’t think they have enough time to pick up another language.  What most of us don’t realise is that we do have a lot more time in our days than we think we do.  So where are these bonus minutes, and how can we take advantage of them.

A great way to maximise your learning time is to use an MP3 or other media player to listen to foreign language material while you’re doing otherwise boring or necessary tasks.  Record your language lessons and play them back, or find some learning material, podcasts, or pop music.  Listen to this material while you’re checking your email, doing the dishes, knitting, walking the dog, riding the bus, or working out at the gym.  Make your own language immersion environment.

Make use of any stationary waiting time (waiting for a train, at the bank, before meeting a friend) to look over notes or flashcards.  Try to review a few words each time you need to wait for something or someone.  And if you’re happy to read on transport, continue your learning on the train or bus as well.

If you are living in a foreign language environment, use it.  Take note of signs and language on your walk home, or when shopping.  Challenge yourself to read everyday items or advertising, and make notes of words to look up later.  Listen to announcements to check your understanding.

If you make a concerted effort to notice and use your surroundings, and maximise your ‘spare’ time, you’ll get in a few extra hours of language exposure a week, and they all add up!