You want to learn a language but you don’t have time? I’m about to prove you wrong! You can achieve your goal with the help of your daily activities. Thanks to that you will not only improve your Spanish, German or whatever you’re learning, but also make your day more interesting. Below is a list of 14 daily activities that will give you up to 4 hours of language learning every day.
For many of us, using Facebook is as obvious as breathing. Because we know it so well, it is time we changed the language of the interface to the one we’re currently learning. There are dozens of options, starting with such “mundane” languages as French, German, or Spanish through gems such as Pirate English, where the ‘Like’ button changes to ‘Arr!’ 🙂
Time gained: 10 minutes – 1 hour
2. Using public transport
The lights have turned to green for the fifth time and yet your bus is still stuck in the same spot? Since you’re going to be late for work and your boss will inevitably make you stay after hours anyway, you might as well stop staring through the window and revise your daily dose of flashcards.
Time gained: 40 minutes
3. Standing in lines
Funnily enough, it is always the line you are in that has somebody who wants to buy cigarettes that are out of stock, or somebody whose credit card is denied over and over again. Instead of rolling your eyes or clenching your fists with anger you can just take out your phone and revise some vocabulary.
Time gained: you’ve just traded 10 minutes of boredom for 10 minutes of learning
4. Watching TV shows
So you have your favourite TV show? Great! What you need to do now is turn on subtitles in a foreign language. After some time you’ll be able to understand much more without virtually any effort.
Additionally, you don’t always have to watch a given show in its original language. When you already know what You know nothing, Jon Snow means, rewatch e.g. the French version of the episode and find out if the phrase was actually interpreted as Tu ne sais rien, Jean Neige.
Time gained: if you’re disciplined and watch just one episode at a time instead of a whole series, you gain 45 minutes
5. Being stuck in traffic jams
If you’re really that reluctant to change from car to bike and avoid being stuck in traffic jams, you may as well spend this time listening to a foreign radio station. If your car radio is not capable of picking up waves from other countries, you can use an internet radio on your smartphone.
Time gained: 15 minutes
6. Reading gossipy websites
So you’re wondering what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast or how much fuel used Madonna’s jet which she flew to take part in a happening against air pollution? Read about it in a foreign language! Virtually every country has some gossipy services – most of them write about the same things, usually employing a very accessible, uncomplicated language.
Time gained: 3 – 30 minutes
7. Watching news
A 25-minute news program usually consists of information that we don’t really care about but we sit in front of the TV out of habit anyway. Instead of watching what others chose for you, you can just access foreign websites and read or watch the news that interest you.
Time gained: 25 minutes
8. Preparing meals
The several minutes we spend reheating yesterday’s dinner can be easily combined with revising vocabulary. Even preparing a soft-boiled egg can prove useful in learning a new language. Going through this set of flashcards will take us more less 5 minutes, so it can work as an egg-timer as well 🙂
If you need to use your hands, you can download VocApp flashcards in .mp3 format and listen to them as you go about your kitchen routine.
Time gained: 20 minutes
9. Working out
The chance that the radio station preferred by most gyms will play something worthwhile is about the same as the chance for snow in July. If you have a pair of good earphones at your disposal, use them to listen to some interesting podcasts.
Tip: make sure your earphones have an efficient noise cancelling system. You don’t want the grunting of 150-kilogram men mixed with your podcast.
Time gained: 1 hour
Many runners like to be accompanied by some energetic songs of their favourite bands. If you don’t want your collection to run out too fast, you can, once again, go for a podcast: several words uttered by a gentleman speaking impeccable Spanish will certainly stay in your head.
Time gained: 30 minutes
11. Using the toilet
Bathroom or toilet may turn out to be quite a reading room, especially during longer… sessions. Several books in a foreign language or an e-book reader at your arm’s length should be enough of a preparation.
Time gained: 15 minutes
12. Going to sleep
You have trouble falling asleep? Most people waste several minutes before they finally space out. Instead of turning from side to side you can listen to some songs in foreign language or read. After a few minutes of such soothing activities you will be well away before long.
Tip: read with only as much lighting as necessary (you can use a flashlight app such as this one). If you’re listening to music, you can program your player to automatically turn off after, say, 30 minutes.
Time gained: 15 minutes
For most people working is a burden that they have to struggle with every day. If you want to really learn a language, try looking for a job where you will have to use it on a daily basis. Reading, writing, talking to foreign customers – contrary to what you might think, the job market offers quite an array of such jobs.
Time gained: at least 1 hour
During your day there will always be some distance that you have to walk, e.g. from the bus stop to the office. You can use that time in a number of ways. For example, you can comment on the reality, i.e. pretend that you’re a speaking video camera of a foreign TV show. If you’re afraid people might take you for a lunatic, put on earphones and pretend you’re talking to somebody on the phone. We promise it’s great fun!
Time gained: at least 5 minutes
Because you perform those activities every day, you automatically acquire consistency, which is crucial in learning a new language. Every time you get on a bus, you play your favourite podcast. Every time you use the toilet, you read a page or two of your favourite magazine. Every time you boil an egg, you listen to a song in a foreing language. Before long you will have made a great leap forward without even realizing it. It’s no wonder – one month of such automatic studying will earn you 100 hours dedicated to learning a language – this is equal to attending a language course for three semesters.
Are there any other activities in your schedule that you can combine with learning a language? Share them in the comment section!