10 Quick Tips for Busy Language Learners

Let me ask you this if you only brush your teeth once a week for 45 minutes as you are too busy to do it every day would it be beneficial? NO WAY and I don’t recommend it either! Unless you want to lose all your teeth. So now apply this to language learning if you only study 45 minutes on a Sunday evening is this beneficial to you?

The answer is NO. 10-20 minutes of study per day followed by a weekly review is far better than just 45 minutes once a week. Think of it as the 80-20 rule. Where 80% of your outcome can be attributed to 20% of what you put in.

So let’s get started now,  because if you are reading this then you are a very busy person…

1. Take it to the Toilet! 

Yes, you heard right. I listen to Glossika on the loo and have even had Hello Talk chats on the loo too. Don’t worry not Skyping or Zoom, well not yet anyway. Think of it as time in lieu!

2. Travel Time (television and social media time too)

Think of all the time you spend traveling and using Social Media. This can be better utilized to help you learn a language. Glossika can be used whilst driving instead of the radio or if you use public transport Duolingo, Flash Academy or another app might help. The Communications regulator Ofcom recently did some research and discovered that the average person (adults and children) spend almost 4 hours per day watching television!  Just think of what you could achieve if you gave up watching TV and cut down on social media!

3. Shower

I love to sing! However, people often mistake it for me trying to murder my cat! Whatever I’m learning Mandarin Chinese, German or brushing up on my French I will sing random words and phrases. Give it a try or find a radio station that is in your target language.

4. Talk to Yourself!

Before I arranged meetings with exchange partners or language tutors, I often talk out loud to myself (or the dog). Saying and repeating some of the things that I plan to talk about. It also helps me to feel more confident about what I will say to them.

5. Sticky Notes

I tend to place random sticky notes on items. Much to the annoyance of my family. So every time I go near that item I am exposed to what it is called in my target language. Flash Sticks make some awesome sticky notes that can be scanned by your phone so you can hear the actual pronunciation!

6. Little, but Often

I aim to learn 3 to 5 words/phrases per day. This does not sound like a lot, but over 5 days it is 25 words a week. Look at me doing the math, yay! If you are really up for a challenge you could learn 10 words a day for 100 days. This will boost your vocabulary to 1000 words, which is 92.7% of spoken conversations!

7. Playing Games

Have you thought about playing a game in your target language? I’ve played ‘Guess Who‘ in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish with my daughter. It is a fun way to learn a language and you can include family and friends too.

8. Flash Chats…

Flash chat in your target language for about 10 – 15 minutes with a native speaker. This is an idea to do if you only get short lunch breaks or if you are limited on time for focused study. Why not flash chat 2 people in 20 minutes? It is also a good way to learn the target language with different accents.

9. Speak in your target language before bedtime

This is something I do and on the odd occasion, I have even dreamt in French and Chinese. When you are sleepy apparently you are more subjective to what is being said. You are feeling sleepy…you will learn French.

10. Got a to-do List?

Write it and attempt to read it out loud in your target language. Add language learning on your to-do list then strike it off straight away as you have written the list in the target language! Bonus. I have even written shopping lists in my target language. Not so fun for the husband when it is written in Chinese and I was unable to go shopping with him.

Remember, the age-old saying

If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it

Happy language learning and remember you can do this!

Read more:

80-20 Rule Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/1/80-20-rule.asp#ixzz4OaxmU2IH


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The Mindful Language Learner

Trisha, is the founder of Language Learners Journal.com. An award-winning blog dedicated to empowering and promoting a more mindful approach to independent language learning and teaching across the UK and beyond. Trisha has a professional and academic background in psychology and well-being. She has been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years and has professionally taught CBT-based mindfulness for the past 7 years. You can follow Trisha on her official Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts to discover how to apply simply mindfulness practices and scientifically proven strategies to your language learning...

3 thoughts on “10 Quick Tips for Busy Language Learners

  1. Great tips! #1 and #4 are probably those I use the most on your list – before my speaking exam in my final year of university I spent weeks timing myself to brainstorm exposés and then practising them aloud in my room, at one point my French housemate who had the room below me asked who I was speaking to and I had to admit I was chatting away to myself! I’ve also found that putting my social media accounts in French (my only foreign language so far) has helped me pick up some useful vocabulary, alongside following other blogs written in French 🙂 Best of luck with your language learning journey – I’m in awe of the fact you can speak five languages!

    1. Hi Rosie, Thank you. Yes that is an excellent idea! My phone is currently set to Spanish. I have also updated my keyboard for when I am chatting to my Chinese friends. If I type in Pinyin it automatically becomes the characters. I look forward to hearing about your progress that you make in French. Best wishes.

      1. I’ve not quite made the leap of setting my phone to French, though I do have an old-school French phone as well as my UK one, so I have some exposure to French through that. That’s a handy trick, I should probably look into finding a way to switch my keyboard to French for when I’m writing emails etc., it would definitely speed up the process!

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