When you were younger life was devoted to school and its associated student responsibilities. There weren’t many constraints to deal with, such as a job, children, home keeping, and other grown-up obligations. As an adult you still have goals and interests, and speaking a foreign language might be one of them. It takes around 1000 hours of study to be considered fluent in most languages so, with all the time required, how can one realistically speak a new language when your schedule is already full?
A productive way to learn a language and strengthen skills when time is limited is to make use of idle moments, down time, travel time, and waiting time. While traveling or commuting to work, use those minutes for listening to podcasts or music in the language you’re studying. If you’re at an advanced level, listen to an audio book in that language. Even if you’re passively listening to music in another language, you are learning new vocabulary, and music is a wonderful memory aid. While waiting for an appointment or standing in line, use a language-learning app on your smart phone or tablet to pass the time. Brief periods of study are small reinforcements that boost your memory tremendously.
Read 15 minutes each day. If there is a book that you like in English, try reading it in your foreign language. You don’t need to read it word for word; understanding the basic storyline and becoming familiar with the sentence structures and new vocabulary will have an impact. Besides, you’ll have great satisfaction and confidence after achieving such an impressive goal. Of course reading a novel is one suggestion. The important thing is to read something, anything that interests you: magazines, comic books, romance novels, whatever will motivate you to read every day. In fact, reading 15 minutes each day exposes you to over 1,000,000 words each year.
If rereading a book doesn’t interest you, watch a favorite movie in the language you’re studying. You will already know the plot so this time you can follow the dialogue with better understanding. Use subtitles if you wish. Games and puzzles are a productive use of time as well, and there are limitless options available on the web. How about participating in a foreign language chat room? Not only do they provide practical conversation experience, they’re also a wonderful source for potential foreign friends.The objective here is to squeeze some language learning into your relaxation time.
Have you ever tried incorporating the five senses into your language learning? This can be done wherever you are. Whenever you taste, smell, touch, hear, or see something new or interesting, think about these sensations in your new language. By engaging with your senses you will train yourself to think more in the new language, not your dominant language. This is why so many language learners advance quickly when they travel to foreign countries. They start to hear and see more foreign words than they do words in their own language. Eventually their brains stop translating into their own language and start thinking in the new language. When brushing your teeth, for example, talk to yourself (silently or aloud) about the minty taste of the toothpaste, how fresh your mouth feels, the color of your toothbrush, how the bristles feel on your gums, how smooth your teeth feel, how foamy the toothpaste becomes, the water, and the brushing sound. Involve your senses in simple tasks while thinking in the language you’re learning. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Think in words and sentences and let you mind be free.
To supplement language learning during your busy day practice these achievable approaches that will keep you on the path to fluency. You can do it! Having an interest in foreign languages is rewarding and opens your world to new possibilities so don’t let time constraints limit your potential to speak a new language.