Are you also one of those people who decided to improve their Spanish or learn French, but haven’t started yet? Good news: You can even start today. The not-so-good news: you’ll need to find some time for it. I can hear you say: “But my schedule is so full already, and every day only has 24 hours. Where should I get more time?”
How can you find more time for your language learning, while still taking care of your kids, keeping up with your work obligations and other activities you normally do? Read on to get yourself lots of practical tips on how to find more time in your daily schedule. You may even find out that you won’t need as much time as you originally expected! (Spoiler alert: you can spend a lot of time with the target language while doing other activities.) Sounds good? Let’s get started!
At the very beginning, it’s crucial to set goals for your language learning. Ask yourself: Why do I want to learn this language? What is the level of proficiency I want to achieve? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can move on to planning specifics: how many hours a week you want to spend with the language, and which methods you want to use. Then you should set a fixed period during which you’re going to stick to this plan. It’s important to keep the goals SMART, i.e.:
As creating your language-learning plan is quite complex, we won’t go into much detail here. But if this is something you need help with, have a look at the Language Master or Language Key video courses, where language mentor Lydia Machova dedicated a whole module to creating a language-learning plan tailored to your needs.
If you already have your plan, let’s talk about the time! First, divide all the activities you’ll do to improve your target language into two categories:
If you’ve ever tried eating healthier, you have probably found very quickly that it’s not a problem not to eat something (such as gluten products). The problem occurs when you are about to eat your favorite meal that usually comes with a slice of bread – and you’ve forgotten to buy vegetables or a gluten-free alternative to bread. You were so focused on what not to eat, that you forgot what you’d actually eat, right? You didn’t create the right conditions for starting your new diet.
It is important to think this way about other activities in your life as well – language learning is no exception. Before you start, think about your schedule: if it’s already so full, that you cannot find time for language learning, you will probably need to change it for the following 2 or 3 months. While planning, it’s also important to reevaluate your priorities and maybe give something up for a certain period. There is no single path to success in this, so we’ll just provide a few tips from learners from previous Autodidacts’ Academies:
→ If you usually spend 2 hours scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram newsfeed every evening, maybe you could go to bed an hour earlier and use it the following morning for your concentrated learning?
→ If you usually spend two evenings a week dancing salsa, could you go only once a week for these 2 months and dedicate the other evening to conversations?
→ If you usually hit the gym for an hour every morning, maybe you could go just 4 times a week and try 10-minute exercise sessions at home on the other three days? You’ll have 3 hours left for studying with your textbook!
But don’t take this too seriously! It doesn’t mean that you are giving up on gym or salsa forever! After two or three months, you can have a look at your priorities again and adjust your plan for the future.
Good news: You won’t need as much time for focused learning as you may think. 2-3 hours a week will do if you add some contact with the language on top of that.
You started to learn the language to be able to use it in real life, right? And you should do just that! Now we are going to have a look at how to spend hours and hours with the language, not even noticing we are learning.
Finally, I would like to quote Ingrid, one of our Autodidacts’ Academy participants. Before the Academy, she thought that while having a full-time job, being a mother of two, and still working on her university degree, she wouldn’t be able to find more than 20 minutes a day for learning English. But she fell in love with learning so much that sometimes she spends 2-3 hours a day learning English. She says:
“The best thing is that I was able to involve my whole family in learning English. My husband loves to practise conversation, so we started to speak English at home. My sons (7 and 13 years old) loved my vocabulary flashcards so much that we had to make some for them too.”
If you decide to start learning with a specific plan and SMART goals after reading this blog post, remember to divide all the activities into focused ones (spend at least 2-3 hours a week with them), and the activities that’ll help you keep in touch with the language whenever it’s possible throughout the day. You may be surprised how much time you can find for language learning. It’s all about priorities and taking the first step.
Translation: Veronika Báthoryová.
The author of this blog post is Veronika Báthoryová, member of the Language Mentoring team.
Language Mentoring provides a complete guide for learning any language using simple and often free resources on the internet and in bookshops. It was founded by polyglot, language mentor and author of this website, Lýdia Machová, PhD., in 2016. She’s learned 7 languages by herself and she adds another one every other year. Her philosophy is that everybody can learn a language regardless talent, age or other qualities – if they know how to do it.