Alright, admit it. We are all guilty of it - starting the New Year, or a new month, with every intention to learn about a new subject, play a new sport or stop eating a certain type of food.
If you are part of the language learning community and you began your 2019 with your head buried in books, a room full of revision cards and an inbox full of new language newsletter sign-ups - which you are PROMISE you are going to read tomorrow - then you have probably overwhelmed yourself.
“I’ll be fluent in three months!” – you said to yourself on 1st January.
Unless you are some sort of dictionary superhuman with superior memory and learning skills to most other people on this planet, putting pressure on yourself to become fluent in a completely different language to your mother tongue in three months is a bit unrealistic.
Did you know… the average time it takes to learn a new language is 480 hours/a WHOLE 20 days? If you are cramming that learning time in on top of your work week, then you are leaving yourself no time at all to relax.
At Lingora, we are big believers in setting ourselves targets to stay motivated, but targets that are too far out of reach could send you into information overload.*
Have you worked too hard this year so far? Or have you not worked hard enough?
Don’t sweat it!*
Everyone learns at their own pace and we have some helpful tips for using your time effectively to support you in the learning process.
1. Put an hour aside a week to hit the books* - but NOT the textbook kind!
Reading textbooks and writing revision cards repeatedly is going to get tedious if this is all you are getting up to in the time you have blocked out for learning. Especially if you are still stuck on page one of ‘Learning English as a Foreign Language for Dummies…’ – you’re not REALLY a dummy – it’s just a joke…
Pick up a book which you know you are going to enjoy reading or choose a headline from a news portal online which has grabbed your attention and read the article.
Multilingual student Alex Rawlings explains that reading books and news stories for pleasure “exposes you to all sorts of vocabulary that you won’t find in day-to-day life and normalises otherwise baffling and complicated grammatical structures. The first book you ever finish in a foreign language is a monumental achievement that you’ll remember for a long time.”
Maybe you could purchase a piece of classic English literature from Amazon?
According to the Oxford International Junior Programmes, these books, including Harry Potter by J.K Rowling and Matilda by Roald Dahl, should help you to learn English.
2. Stop wasting time* online
“Must learn language… must learn language… MUST LEARN LANGUAGE!!” You’ve been repeating this ritual in your head ever since the day you learnt your first word in your target language. ‘Hola!’ ‘Merci beaucoup!’ ‘안녕!’ ‘Hello’, ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ are some that we regard as the most important – manners don’t cost a thing!*
But there is just one BIG problem. The internet. It’s full of distractions isn’t it? Whether you are checking your social media, messages from your friends or your emails, the world wide web can become a huge obstacle for trying to be productive.
Why don’t you try hitting standby on the internet? Deactivate your social media accounts so that they are no longer a distraction. In a world where the average person’s attention span lasts as little as nine seconds, we should probably get rid of all potential alerts, notifications and MUST-READ spam that may knock our concentration.
If you need disciplining, StayFocusd – we know… it’s harder than it looks! – is an app for the Chrome web browser that’s perfect for keeping you in line. Once installed, you can adjust the settings to limit the amount of time you spend on certain websites. If you were to allocate yourself ten minutes a day on Facebook, StayFocusd would block Facebook until the end of the day. If you’re using Firefox rather than Chrome, Leechbox does the exact same thing.
- Don’t sweat it - A phrase used to calm someone down when they’re worried
- Hit the books - Slang for studying with particular intensity
- Information overload - The difficulty in understanding an issue and effectively making decisions when one has too much information about that issue.
- Wasting time - The devotion of time to a useless activity
- Don’t cost a thing - Doesn’t cost any money