No Time For Learning a Language? No Problem.
Everyone has a hectic life. Nobody is time and even if you have time; it’s always so little that you’re never able to actually put the effort into learning a new language. This is probably the biggest excuse people used to cop-out of study. Lucky for you, I’ve got some great tips and learning strategies to squeeze that sweet, sweet L2 into your life!
The daily commute.
Whether you drive or commute by bus always going to have some time available to you. Maybe it’s five minutes or maybe it’s a soul destroying hour and a half, but you’ve got time. Heading to work is about to become a lot more fun, productive, and a lot less lazy. I apologize in advance.
Your own vehicle.
If you drive your going to want to use your car’s stereo system. Now you have two options available for you. If you live in a region where your target language has a radio station – switch it to the that. Preferably to talk radio, but who am I to judge. It’s easy, it’s free, and the language is natural and fluent. Now if you are driving through a proverbial wasteland for your target language, he going to need to get a lot more crafty.
Newer cars allow you to connect with your phone or MP3 players. This can be done through Bluetooth or USB connectors. With it you’ll be able to play media off your phone through your radio. This media can be anything from an audio-book, music in your chosen language, podcasts, audio language courses, and maybe even audio from scenes from a movie.
Just because you have old car doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. I used to drive a 1985 Honda prelude. With a tape cassette deck initially. If you have a tape deck you can get yourself an adaptor that looks like a tape; it has little cable that connects straight into the headphone jack of your phone. This is by far my favorite option for old cars. Unfortunately I went and upgraded to a CD player. After that I had to look for more ingenious solutions.
The first was burning CDs. Again just like with your MP3 player above you can burn any media you want. In fact most audio-books come in CD formats. However I do admit that CDs are not very adaptable or versatile. But they are high quality. The second choice I had was to buy an FM transmitter for my phone. FM transmitters are much more versatile in the same way that a USB connection is. However they have a lot lower quality when it comes to sound, they tend to cut in and out, and they tend to burn a lot of juice. But if you can live with the static, there almost as good as Bluetooth or USB. Plus radio transmitters can be used with almost any radio.
You’re stuck on a bus – LIKE A LOSER (jks)
Pauvre petit bonhomme. Your real lucky, like a really lucky. Taking a bus means that you have to spend none of your attention on the journey ahead. So now, you can focus all of this attention on learning your target language! A bus pretty much guarantees at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted learning. You can bring books, media, flash cards, notepads, your personal surrogate language learning friend, or anything else you can fit in a backpack. You can pretty much turn your spot on the bus into your personal cubicle, complete with personal space issues.
Seriously, the only negative aspects that I can think of for studying on a bus include getting motion sickness from reading and having people think you’re crazy for speaking out loud to yourself. Personally I’d save speaking practice for when you’re driving yourself and alone. In all honesty the bus is a great place to find some free time to make some real progress.
Lunchtime and other breaks
while your day may be full, it’s definitely not completely jam packed. Off time and times of rest sneak through the cracks. So while I specifically mentioned lunchtime, this section pretty much goes for any extra minutes in the day you have. Whether that be five minutes you’re there or an extra hour before dinner. The times when you have time, but not a lot of time and usually less time than you’d ever consider for trying to study.
The trick to these periods of time is quick set up studying. The best example I have for these types of studying our flash card apps on your phone, or short soundbites in media. Apple made it so you can start a song in three button clicks, so use that to your advantage. Essentially all you have to do is get an app or media that’s already filled with vocabulary that you’re currently learning.
I used to work as a pizza delivery driver until my Prelude exploded. In the heyday of my career I often found myself waiting for 5 to 10 minutes between each run. In the bustle of the pizza shop I sat in the back and ran a spaced repetition flash card application on my phone. This application had 500 top frequency verbs. I’d run through them whenever I have time and this was surprisingly effective. I really didn’t study these verbs anywhere else. But I quickly found that even after three or four days I could recognize most of them. Sure I’d run through 10 or 20 of these cards while waiting for the next order. Sure it was only a small amount. But the sheer number of these small breaks in my day led to a lot of studying.
It’s unbelievable how much time is freed up in our life when we have easy access chances to use it. It could be they are waiting for dinner, or waiting for the bus, or waiting for your next video game lobby to fill up. There’s always opportunities and all these chances to really supercharge your studying.
Just do what you are going to do anyways.
This is for intermediate learners. In essence the only reason you don’t have time is because you using that time on other activities. But if you’re adept or conversational you could do those things in your second language. This is just a quick section because I’ve gone over it heavily in other posts.
Essentially all you want to do is do what you’re going to do but in a different language. Watching movies, listening to music, talking with your bros, pwning noobs and reading fanfics? Yeah you can do all of those things and more in your chosen language. Studying while doing something else… Success!
Yeah know this is a bit of a lame duck of an idea. But it’s true. At certain point you’re going to need to get massive input to learn a new language and that massive input comes from using it in your day-to-day life. So change your operating system’s language and pick up some dubbed movies. This’ll immediately solve you not having enough time issue without even using up more time!
So there you have it! All of my tips and tricks for jam packing your life full of your L2. Now you’ll be able to learn. Soon you’ll fly above the rest of us as a fluent, capable, beautiful individual. Remember language learning isn’t a sprint; instead it’s a marathon. Like a marathon it needs constant attention every day, even if it’s just a small amount. So just do what you can do right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s only one or two minutes while you’re waiting for something else to happen. Anything you can do will vastly improve your skill set if you do it enough over a long enough timeline.
It only takes 800 hours to learn a new language according to the EXPERTS. So if you find half an hour day and only did stuff during that half an hour it would only take you 4.383562 years to achieve your dreams of fluency! Sigh. Luckily this isn’t even taking into account the actual real studying that you’re doing. Hopefully, haha.