Finding time for learning a new language seems impossible as we juggle work, family, and personal commitments. Self-improvement becomes a challenge, and some will better not even try. But for those determined to add this new skill under their belt, the question might be how I can make it work.

The ability to learn is one of the most important skills and some mistakenly think that it is an innate gift. You are either good at it or you are not. The good news my friend is that it can be mastered as well as making time for learning.

Here are a few simple strategies that have helped me along the way to carve time for more things.

Focus on one project at a time.

Do not try and cram diverse activities at once. Remember you are already short of time. From the list of things that you wish to do- learn to play tennis, painting, salsa dancing and learn a language- choose the one which is more relevant to you. As you are reading this article, I presume language learning is your answer. Then put your effort and time in this activity only. You can always learn something else later.

Effective time management.

To stretch your time, you need to make some effort in planning how you want to spend it. Without an effective time management you will have less opportunity do things. This in turn might lead to stress and then out of the window will go your intention of learning this new language.

To help you, you must develop a study timetable.

Having a personalised timetable will:

  • help you focus better on the task ahead as well as giving structure to your learning.
  • Allow you to assign a time slot to every task involved.
  • It will keep procrastination at bay.
  • Help you to decide what needs to be done and when.

Plan your weekly language activities and split them into daily tasks

When planning, you should also bear in mind all your other commitments and organise your study around them. You should also leave white spaces -these are free time to relax and or do social activities-.Also consider how much time you are prepared to dedicate to your studies. Once you have thought about all these, you are then ready to make your timetable.

Start by blocking off your unavoidable commitments and see what time you have left. Then plan your weekly language activities and split them into daily tasks and assign them to a relevant time slot. Don’t forget to update your timetable at the beginning of each week.

Make learning as easy as possible.

It is paramount to make learning as easy as possible to get started. Set your environment. Have your book, notebooks, and dictionary handy in your study area so that you do not need a second thought to start at a drop of a hat.

You can also have materials on you all the time so you can get advantage of the “dead times” when commuting or in a long queue to do a quick language activity like reading from your kindle App or listening to a language podcast previously downloaded from Spotify. This will allow you to take advantage of 10–15-minute chunks to make progress.

Combine activities.

You might be able to listen to a podcast when out exercising or whilst doing the chores, or shopping or whilst driving, as a passive learning activity. it is also a way to create immersion in the language when you do not need to lend your undivided attention to the task.

Remove distractions.

We often claim to be short of time, but we always find the way to spend hours in front of the TV or scrolling aimlessly on social media. Maybe, if you cut these activities even by half you will find more time to learn. Also, when engaged in a study activity, try to switch off the notifications on your phone or iPad and stay away from the TV until you are done. This is a way to diminish the temptation of leaving your task unfinished.

Journaling is a great way to reflect on your learning

Reflect on your learning.

At the end of each week spend some time thinking about your learning week. This is important. Analyse what went wrong, what were your wins, areas that can be improved and implement the necessary changes for the following week. This type of reflection demands a moment of calm and introspection, and it is usually when we get the lightbulb moments, and when concepts become clear.

Finding time for learning is after all a question of motivation; and the motivation to learn a language should come from something that excite you. The outcome, the idea of speaking another language should raise a passion in you that makes finding time a worthy sacrifice when compared to all the benefits you will reap.

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