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Guest Post: How to fit language learning into your life (no matter how busy you are)

busy schedule?

You know the problem. You’re getting nowhere with your language learning. You know you need to invest more time in your studies. Every week you promise yourself that you’ll spend more time studying. But somehow life gets in the way. Before you know it another week passed and you haven’t done any studying.

A class would have been great.  But with a job and a hundred other commitments - where would you find the time?

So you continue feeling guilty that you are making no progress. Meanwhile, your goal of mastering a language begins to feel like an impossible dream you’ll never achieve.

The problem with waiting

The problem is that you’re waiting until a large gap in your schedule miraculously appears.  But when you have long-term commitments, like a busy job or a family, finding time is difficult without making dramatic changes in your life.

Does this mean you can’t learn a language until your children have left home or you retire?  No, of course, not.

How to make time in your busy schedule to learn a language

Stop waiting until your schedule clears to prioritize your language learning. It may never happen.

Instead look for opportunities during your day when you have 5 or 10 minutes free to do a short language learning exercise. This will usually happen when you are in the middle of activities like:

1. Your morning commute 

Put all that time stuck in traffic to good use.  If you’re traveling on public transport, practice with a language learning app on your phone. If you’re driving, listen to language learning CDs.

2. Watching TV 

Don’t sit through boring adverts. Read a page from a phrasebook and learn 5 new words.

3. Waiting in line 

If you are waiting in line in a store, try to name all the items in your basket in your chosen language.  This exercise will help you identify any areas you need to revise.

4. Waiting for the kettle to boil 

Spend time thinking in the language you’re learning.  Imagine you are making a movie trailer of your life. Describe everything you are doing in the language.

5. Doing the housework 

Combine your studies with routine chores like cleaning, when your body is busy, but your mind is free to concentrate.  Listen to songs in the foreign language and sing along. The time will pass more quickly and you might even begin to enjoy the housework.

Making the technique work for you

To make this strategy work, first, think of a goal that you would like to achieve. Then make a list of short fun activities that will help you reach this goal.

For example, you may decide to work on your listening skills.  So you find a YouTube channel to subscribe to and a language learning app.

This technique helps you get started, no matter how busy you are. Ultimately learning anything takes time and effort. Although it doesn't sound much, just 10 minutes a day adds up to over an hour a week. Practice regularly and you will soon see results.

What’s more, once you start learning, you’ll find more topics to explore and skills you want to improve. You’ll be motivated to continue and you’ll naturally make time in your schedule for your language learning.

What do you think? How do you fit language learning into your schedule? Share your comments below.

Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and qualified TEFL tutor. She writes authority blog posts on e-learning for online education companies who want to sell their services to students. Find out more at Writer Carol.

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