You’re busy. I get it. School, work, love life, family, and friends - they all take up time. Seeking the time to dedicate to “language learning” can seem impossible. Something that you want to do, but never really get around to doing.
Here are 5 tips to fit language learning into your daily schedule.
1. Downtime. Find your downtime during the day. Maybe it’s during a commute. Maybe you work out at the gym. Maybe you cook all of your meals at home. Be creative in trying to incorporate language learning during these blocks of time. You may need to download language learning podcasts onto your phone or iPod for a commute. Perhaps you need to find a YouTube channel with language lessons that you can watch while stirring your pasta sauce. Focus on exploiting these down times to dedicate to language learning.
2. Calendar reminders. I’m a big fan of calendar reminders. I have one for drinking water throughout the day, one for my doctor appointments, one to water my plants, and one to change my sheets (just kidding). The reason lifestyle apps incorporate pop-up reminders is because they nag us to do something that we know we need to get done. When you first start using these kinds of apps, if you’re like me, you start strong and do whatever the pop-up tells you to do. This lasts for about 1 week. Then you start to ignore the pop-up. That’s okay. Even if I only drink water two times out of every 8 reminders, I’m still getting more water during the day than if I didn’t have the app.
Use this same principle for language learning. Using a calendar app (or even a calendar reminder) to set up personalized reminders throughout the day and week to study. Something as simple as “Review flashcards now” popping up every 4-5 hours on your phone, twice a day, can have a powerful effect on your ability to remember your language.
3. Twitter. Find someone to follow who Tweets language lessons. Countless dedicated souls send vocabulary words, idiomatic expressions, and translation quizzes in 117 characters or less. You will spend fewer than 20 seconds reading their Tweets, but benefit from exposure to the language throughout the day.
4. Encore language learning apps. Download a Encore app on your Smartphone. As a Encore app user, I admit that some are better than others, but just having one on your phone means that you’re likely to play with it during long, boring meetings, while waiting to pick up your coffee, or standing at the airport security checkpoint.
5. Homepage. Make your homepage the front page of a bilingual newspaper. Even if you only get a chance to glance at the headlines before clicking over to your email, you’re exposing yourself to valuable vocabulary.
Of course, if you can dedicate more time during your normal day to study language, you’ll probably reach your learning goals faster. The reality is, though, if you feel constricted by your busy schedule and wait for a chunk of time to begin learning, you will probably never get around to learning. Remember, 5-10 minutes a day can be just as effective - if not more so - than one, 60-minute session a week.