How long have you wanted to learn a new language? How many times have you wanted to start but never found the time? How is it actually possible to accomplish such a big task with so little time?
One word: integration
By this, I don’t mean that you should integrate into the culture or integrate with people from the country. Of course that would be ideal but not all of us have that option, especially when learning from home. What I mean is that you need to integrate your new language into your every day life.
You need to make it convenient. I would start by utilising time that can easily go to waste.
Let’s take your journey to and from work. Download the Duolingo language learning app and use 10 minutes of your otherwise easily wasted time during the commute to finally start learning a new language. You might want to turn off What’sapp notifications to avoid distractions but Duolingo gives you constant feedback and measures your level of fluency throughout to keep you going.
You could even start learning before you leave the house. Download a radio app, turn it on before you get in the shower and once you’ve woken up a bit, you can practise your listening skills whilst getting ready. Minimal effort language learning! Will you understand everything they say? Probably not at first, but listening to the radio allows you to be ‘surrounded’ by native speakers, hearing authentic language use and slowly but surely being able to put the sentences together. You’ll be surprised at the speed that you recognise new words. Be patient, it’ll come in due time.
Another slot of your time that could possibly be utilised better is your lunch break. Around 5 hours per week to socialise and have a mental break from work, which aren’t during the evenings or on the weekends. Would it really hurt to put at least one of these hours towards your newly set goal of learning a language? I guess not 🙂
I would use this time for grammar. Grammar can be a challenging but rewarding aspect of learning a language. Dedicate at least 90 minutes of your 5 hours a week to brush up on grammar and watch how quickly your fluency increases on Duolingo .
So after around 20 minutes of listening to the radio every morning, 20 minutes of Duolingo per day and 90 minutes of grammar per week, you have already given nearly 5 hours of your time to learning a language in just one week. You haven’t even touched your evenings or weekends!
But surely 5 hours is enough?
Of course you want to go to the gym and meet up with friends, and so you should! Spending just one hour during the evenings or on the weekends will help you a lot more than you think.
Spend this hour reflecting on your development and setting new goals. What did you struggle with this week? Look it up and revise it. What did you do well at this week? Make a note of it. What do you want to be more confident with next week? Write it down. Be realistic with your progress and expectations but equally, remember that you need to keep pushing yourself.
I’ll leave you with a few apps and websites below but remember that integration is key when it comes to perfecting your language skills. Yes, dedication and motivation are extremely important, but that goes without saying. Integrate your language learning into your every day life and watch your confidence build just as quickly as your fluency.
Radio: Learn German with Radio (app available)
Dictionary: dict.cc (app available)
Radio: RTVE (app available)
Dictionary: Spanishdict.com (app available)
I have only included German and Spanish as these are the two languages that I have personal experience with, however the Duolingo app also includes French, Italian, Portuguese and many other languages too!