Are you learning a foreign language?
One of the most frustrating things about language learning is finding the time for it.
Learning a new language can seem overwhelming, especially if you are only exposed to it when you leave your house to pick up your groceries.
But when you start listening to it in the shower, in the car, when you exercise… it stays fresh in your mind and you will be more comfortable to start conversations with native speakers.
Remember: you don’t have to speak perfectly to start speaking. (Try speaking from day 1.)
If you’ve been having a hard time finding the time, this is the list for you!
My Top 9 “Time Finding” Hacks For Language Learning
- Learn in the shower. I used to waste shower time just getting clean: how crazy was that!? Now I take a Spanish lesson every morning with a bluetooth waterproof speaker, my tablet and a Pimsleurs program with Audible. When I leave the program running while I coat myself in sunblock, get dressed and do my makeup, I cram in a 30 minute Spanish lesson. It’s wonderful, the Spanish goes in while my mind is fresh.
- Learn in the car. Make use of car time by listening to language learning programs. Everyone loves to listen to their favorite music while driving, but as an expat you need to cram in whatever time you can to learn. Trust me, when you start communicating more freely, you’ll be happy you didn’t just lazily listen to music all the time! 🙂
- Learn while doing chores. Do you ever wash dishes, vacuum the floor or iron clothes? Use that time! Listen to language programs on your iPhone, watch movies in the language you are trying to learn, listen to the local radio station…
- Learn while shopping. Use strangers (friendly strangers who have some time on their hands) to teach you the language. I do this all the time! When I’m buying at the market I point to something and ask (in Spanish) “how do you say that?” People are more than happy to help by providing the word I need to learn. I repeat it, if I say it wrong they help me until I say it right.
- Learn in the bathroom. This is not a big topic of conversation, but who does not read on the can (the loo, the head, the john, the toilet) once in awhile? Make use of that time. Keep some simple language books nearby. Kids learning books and readers are a good choice, they have pictures (which help with learning comprehension) and easy words. You can usually find them at bookstores, school supply stores and paper supply stores.
- Learn as you exercise. Do you run, jog, walk or bike? Take advantage of that time to listen to language learning programs.
- Learn as you socialize. Talk to whoever you can about (or in) the language you are learning. If you are at a lunch with expats, talk about what you’ve been learning. Chances are your friends will want to share what they have been learning as well. Talk to native speakers, taxi drivers, people behind you at the market, the person waiting on you at a restaurant, the girl next in line at the dentist office… just say what you know, ask simple questions, little by little you will advance.
- Learn on public transportation. Don’t let that time on the bus slip by. Listen to your program. Granted you may not feel like repeating out loud what you are learning, but you can repeat it silently to yourself.
- Learn as you fall asleep. Do you like to read as you fall asleep? Keep some of the same type of readers or learning books as mentioned in #5 near your bed. You will learn some simple sentence structure and common vocabulary.
Pay Attention As You Listen
If you really want to learn you need to pay attention as you listen. Just having something on in the background is not going to do much in the way of usable language. So focus.
Choose programs that allow time for you to respond or repeat what has been said before moving on. When you watch movies, have subtitles on in English. When you hear a phrase you want to be able to say, pause the movie, back it up and repeat it a few times.
Focused listening while doing other things will help you learn the language, but should not take the place of study. Even if you just get up 20 minutes earlier each day to do some study, it will help and you will see improvement.
Have you picked up or invented some of your own time finding hacks for language learning? Please share them in the comments.