I know, I know – you’re busy, I’m busy, the whole world is busy.
I feel like I spend most days in a battle with the neverending to-do list, rushing from one task to the next while new things I have to do get added.
The fact is, life is busy and it isn’t always easy to fit in studying another language, particularly if you’re not living somewhere where it is widely spoken.
Here are a few tips which might help you to squeeze in just a little bit more language learning every day!
1. Label everything
Yes, I mean everything! If you stick labels on items around your house in your target language, you will pick up a lot from constant exposure. It doesn’t have to just be single words but could be grammar or sentence structures which will come in handy.
I don’t do this so much any more but papered my apartment in Japan when I was first studying Japanese and did the same when I and my boyfriend first moved to China. I got in a few minutes of revision whilst cooking, washing up or brushing my teeth!
If you are studying one of the ten languages on my multilingual flashcards, feel free to print them out and stick them around to help you learn your language faster!
2. Podcasts are your friend
There are so many amazing (and free!) podcasts out there. Even the sites which have a subscription charge (e.g. Japanese pod 101, etc) often post free podcasts once a week, etc so you can download them and keep them for as long as you like (check out my Language Learning resources pages for links to lots of great channels). I have some loaded onto my phone and stick them on in the background while I’m walking, doing the groceries, doing housework, etc. This time really does add up to some substantial learning.
3. Check out your library
Most libraries have language courses on CD which you can borrow – or borrow digitally from the comfort of your home. Some libraries also have subscription services which allow you to download audiobooks in other languages. This is a fantastic way to get a bit of language learning into your day, particularly if you are already familiar with the story or have a copy that you can read-along with.
I can still practically recite the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Japanese!
4. Watch more TV
Obviously, in your target language!
At the beginning you may need subtitles in your first language to help, but, if possible, put the subtitles in your target language – for everything, even media you are consuming in your first language.
Once you’ve watched something, watch it again, have it on in the background as you do other things – if you want to use music, TV or other media as a learning resource rather than just as a source of relaxation, you need to listen to it numerous times. After each rewatch/listen, use a dictionary to find ~10 words you picked out and learn them. Soon you will be understanding a lot more which will give you a confidence boost!
An added bonus is that, even before you reach a higher level of fluency, you will be training your ear for the natural rhythm and patterns of the language which will help you sound much more natural when you speak.
5. Play mobile games
There are lots of free games available, some better than others – download a few and give them a go. Even if you only play for five minutes a day while on your daily commute or before bed, it is still a little bit of extra language learning squished into your day. I love the Duolingo app,for example, and it allows you to study multiple languages!
These tips should help you squeeze a bit more language learning into your day. You could also use these tips for other skills you want to learn too!
Unfortunately, if you really want to get better at your target language rather than just maintaining your current level, you will need some dedicated study too.
Still, some study is better than none and we all have to start somewhere!
How do you fit language learning into your daily routine?
Do you have any tips which help you get a bit more into your day?
What is your favourite activity to do when learning a new language?
Let me know in the comments!
Remind yourself of why you’re learning another language by reading about how being bilingual keeps your brain fit? (Don’t worry, the benefits kick in long before you’re completely bilingual!)
Check out my book review for A Fish in Foreign Waters, a lovely picture book which teaches children that being bilingual is a positive!
Thanks for reading!