How to find the time to learn languages

by Simon Marion

I'm sure you already know that learning a language is long-term task that requires regular study. For the following months or even years, you will need a lot of time, which is our most precious resource in our life. This article will give you the necessary tools for a good time management.

Procrastination: your worst enemy

Because of a lack of time (real or perceived), you can quickly find yourself putting things off until the next day, and then the day after ... until progressively forgetting the language. This tendency to procrastinate generates a real vicious cycle: the more you put distance between your study sessions, the more they become difficult and demotivating. This learned-by-heart vocabulary will stubbornly refuse to stay in your mind, the grammar rules that seemed very clear become obscure ... In short, you go through quite an ordeal.

Hence, a regular study is not luxury. Rather, it's an obligation to learn properly. I can already hear some of you saying “Yes, I want to learn a language, but I really don't have time to it!”. Well, think again, I am convinced that everyone has a bit of spare time to dedicate to languages, even with a busy schedule. The secret lies in a good optimization of this little bit of time that we have at our disposal.

Improving your relation with time

A classic beginner mistake when you start to learn a language, consists in working several hours in a row for the first lesson, while thinking that you will be able to keep this pace throughout the following months. This first linguistic dose might be particularly motivating, but don't forget that this enthusiasm will inevitably fall back, despite our strong desire to speak the language.

Therefore, it's better to work with short sessions, but regular, rather than big sessions with a lot of space between them. For the record, the Assimil method became popular thanks to its lessons requiring less than half an hour of study every day. So think about it!

Of course, if you have the luck to have a lot of free time, nothing prevents you from studying several hours per day if you want! However, if your personal and professional life leave little free time, try to make sure to study with several sessions of at least 15 minutes every week.

In search of lost time

Our everyday life is full of dead time that we don't exploit in the way we should. Your goal, as a smart language amateur in a hurry, is to take advantage of them to study regularly, even in situations that don't seem appropriate.

Here is a small sample of moments of the day that are more appropriate for language learning that they seem:

To summarize, fill your dead time with activities, provided that they are consistent with your environment. For example, practicing your speaking ability will be easier at home than inside a crowded bus (at worst, you will look like a crazy person, but like polyglot crazy person).

Be careful not to become obsessed with “wasted” time: it would be a shame to miss a nice lunch with your colleagues or a drink with your friends just because you have Chinese characters to study ... Languages have to be a pleasure first.

Towards new habits

In the end, the ideal schedule would be the following: various sessions of half an hour spread in the week to learn the language relaxed, with several micro-sessions during the dead time of the day.

Working on these two “aspects” together: for example, read a text in the evening, then create a short list of vocabulary that you study the next day, in transports or in a queue.

If you apply these advices, you will constantly be in immersion and your progress will be as obvious as regular.


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