Caitlin guest posts today on the best way to learn a language when you have a very busy schedule. It IS possible, especially with the tips below.
Learning a new language leads to broader career opportunities, not only if you’re looking for a new job, but also if you’re trying to get a promotion. Speaking a foreign language, naturally, means higher salaries and a better bargaining position.
The potential for networking with professionals from foreign countries is enormous. The skill also renders you a more appealing candidate for global companies seeking candidates who can adjust to different cultures.
Apart from the career benefits, the process of learning a new language will make your brain sharper and keep it that way for a long time. So, if everything is so peachy, why do you know so many people who speak only their native language?
Well, aside from failing to see the perks, a lot of folks can’t squeeze in enough time to go to lessons and practice privately. So, if you’re a busy career woman, here are a few tips that will help you master a new language, in spite of your crowded schedule.
Set clear and achievable goals
“Mastering a language” is a pretty broad and immeasurable goal, especially in the early stages of learning. Set clear and time-restricted goals, so you could mark every success and keep up with your progress.
For example, you can plan to master basic grammar and vocabulary in the first month, and then upgrade it with food and travel-related vocabulary in the second month, and so on. As for the vocabulary concerning business and your specific industry, give yourself more time, because this is usually the most complicated part of learning a foreign language.
Besides keeping you motivated, this practice will also help you create an easy-to-track routine.
Talk to real people
Hearing “well done” or “great job” from the little voice on your app when you pronounce a sentence in Spanish, for example, certainly feels nice. However, no one can guarantee that you’ll get the same reaction when confronted with actual language speakers.
The best way to learn a language like Spanish is to talk with native speakers, whether by “infiltrating” their communities in your area or traveling to a Spanish-speaking country and trying to get by with what you know. That way, you’ll definitely learn something new every day.
This goes for any language, and it could shorten your learning time by half, if not more.
Don’t rely solely on the language school
Getting the mentorship of a professional to learn a foreign language is always a quicker and safer way to success, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on your language school lessons, which you’re probably taking two or three times a week.
Learning a foreign language is a process that requires creating personal learning activities. A good idea for combining your time off with language practice is watching foreign movies with subtitles or listening to songs while reading the lyrics. You can also read the news and write a journal in that language.
Squeeze it into the in-between times
In addition to incorporating the new dialect into your time off, you can squeeze it into your daily activities too. For example, if you are learning Chinese vocabulary, do some simple exercises on a language-learning app during your morning commute.
If you go to a gym or go jogging, then listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music in the new tongue. Basically, whenever you’re engaged in an activity that allows your brain to go on autopilot, you can use that time to upgrade your skills.
Find a study partner
Sometimes, the strength lies in numbers. It’s similar to having a workout buddy who will make you push further and hold you accountable.
The things you learn on your own, especially vocabulary, are easy to forget. But when you study with someone, or in a group, it’s easier to put all the new information into context and memorize it.
The time you will devote to studying with someone is entirely up to you and your partner. It can be five minutes a day over the phone, or an hourly studying session three days a week.
Try spaced repetition
There are two learning techniques usually associated with language learning: rote learning and spaced repetition. What they have in common is the idea that the more you repeat something, the more successful you’ll be at mastering it.
Rote learning, otherwise called cramming, is the classical school-style learning by heart, while spaced repetition is practicing vocabulary and grammar for a short time period every day (ten or fifteen minutes), with no intention of learning by heart. Eventually, the words should end up imprinted on your brain.
The best way to learn a language: It’s more than just studying
Thinking of language learning as another chore on your list will probably sabotage everything you’re trying to achieve. That’s why it’s important to choose a language you like, and you will eventually love it.
But first, you need to make a habit out of it. Just like when waking up in the morning, you might have a routine of checking e-mails and drinking coffee.
In the end, everything comes down to how badly you want it. If you commit and are eager to learn, you will find the time to do it. It’s always better when you have a personal motive to learn a certain language.
Perhaps you want to travel to some country as you love its history, movies or music, for example. But don’t overlook the career perks; money can be a great motivator.
Good luck! Buena suerte! Bonne chance! Viel Glück!
About today’s writer
Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science in all its forms. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health-related and well-being-related topics.
She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, find her on Twitter.