You might think you don’t have time to learn a new language. You have to work, or you have to go to school. Maybe the kids take too much of your time. I understand, since I had little time when I was learning any language. It took me a little while to look for time to learn – and I don’t mean shuffling around my work and school schedules, but there is a lot of wasted time that I found useful for learning.
Driving is a big time waster. You’re driving to work, you’re driving home from work, and you’re going to the store, waiting for a train to pass by, stuck in traffic. During these times, you can have a CD playing your language lessons, or listening to a podcast or music in your new language. You don’t have to learn anything, just let it play. Your brain will subconsciously absorb the material – all I ask is that you practice safe driving first.
Other times you can do some review include waiting in line at the grocery store, the motor vehicle office, or the bus stop, anywhere you have to wait for someone or something. You can carry your notebook with you and review some points of the lesson you’re learning or of past lessons. Listen to audio files on your MP3 player, look at flash cards, or practice with a language app on your mobile phone.
If you’re studying at home, try not to put yourself into the mindset of having to study for hours. Just like you can’t eat an entire meal in one bite, learning a language must be studied a little at a time. So rather than studying 2-3 hours in one day per week, it is more effective to spend just 20-30 minutes each day. If you can’t do an every day schedule, then plan 2-3 times a week to keep a regular study routine going. Try making it roughly the same time each day (when you get up, at lunchtime, etc.) so that you get into the habit of studying regularly. And always refresh your memory when you have a few minutes to spare.
Another good time for review is when you’re just about going to bed. You’ve brushed your teeth, you’ve put on your pajamas and you’re in bed. Take this time to review your lesson or your notebook, and go through it from beginning to end without learning anything. Just read it through slowly and carefully. Then during the night, your brain will sort out this information and file it away into your permanent memory. When you get up the next day, you’ll find that not only do you remember quite a bit more material, but you will also understand the lesson better when you review it.
Transparent Language has great flashcard software called “Before You Know It” (BYKI). With it you can learn new vocabulary, useful phrases and print out lists of what you’re learning to take with you. BYKI is available for 71 languages and can be taken anywhere – your laptop, iPod, iPad and even your iPhone.