“I really want to learn English, but where can I find the time to do it?”, “I would love to – if I had the ability”, “Of course, the language is very necessary, but courses are not cheap…”. Coach Oksana Kravets tells us where to find time to study a foreign language and how to use this “find” to maximum advantage.
Let’s start with the main point. Talent for learning foreign languages is a relative concept. As the translator and writer Kato Lomb said, “success in language learning is determined by a simple equation: time spent + interest = result”.
I am sure that everyone has the necessary resources to realise what they want. Yes, there are a number of objective reasons why it becomes more difficult to learn new languages as you get older, but at the same time, it is with years that you come to understand yourself and your needs, and your actions become more conscious. This helps to achieve goals more effectively.
TRUE MOTIVATION AND A REAL GOAL ARE THE KEYS TO SUCCESS.
Determine your motivation. Why are you studying or want to start learning a foreign language? What or who is motivating you? Is it your desire or a need caused by external circumstances?
Formulate a goal. What timeframe do you set for yourself and what do you want to achieve in that time? Think about whether your goal is achievable and realistic. How will you know if you have achieved it?
Maybe you want to complete one season of Sex and the City in English without subtitles in a month, or translate and start reciting funny dialogue from The Simpsons by heart in a week. Or maybe your goal is measured by the number of words you need to learn or the number of books you’d like to read?
A goal should motivate you to study regularly. The more realistic and clear it is to you, the more visible your progress will be. Put it down on paper, tell your friends, plan actions.
HOW TO FIND TIME?
Make a timeline. Use a smartphone app to record everything you do from the moment you wake up until you go to bed, including smoke breaks and all the cups of coffee you have with colleagues, or record all your activities in a notebook for a week. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about yourself during the week!
Analyse what your day looks like. What or who is eating up your precious time and energy? Social media or an overly social colleague? Or maybe the “nothing” phone conversations?
Found it? Gradually minimise the time you spend on chronophages – the absorbers of your precious minutes and hours.
TIME HAS BEEN FOUND. WHAT NEXT?
Let’s say you have freed up some time as a result of your “audit”. Think about how you can make the most of it. What gives you the most pleasure? Listening to podcasts or audio lessons? Reading books, playing games on your smartphone using special language apps?
I am currently learning German, so I have German music, podcasts and audio lessons on my tablet, which I listen to on my way to work or while walking. I always have adapted books and comics in German in my bag: I read them on transport, in a queue or while waiting for a meeting. I write down unfamiliar but often repeated words and expressions in a smartphone app, checking their meaning in an electronic dictionary.
A FEW MORE TIPS
Communicate. If you don’t speak the language you’re learning, it’s dead to you. You can’t experience the melody and rhythm of a language without speaking the words aloud. Almost every language school has conversation clubs that everyone can attend.
I am sure you will find someone in your neighbourhood who knows the language at a sufficient level. You can communicate with him/her while walking around the city or having tea parties at home. This is a great opportunity not only to practice, but also to spend time in good company.
Find like-minded people. It’s much more fun to learn a language with a partner, friend or child. Like-minded people will be your resource to keep you motivated.
Turn obstacles into helpers. Not enough time to learn a foreign language because you’re babysitting a young child? Learn the names of animals, play him children’s songs in a foreign language, and talk. Repeating the same simple expressions many times will help you learn them.
Whatever language you learn, it is always important to be systematic. A language is a muscle that needs to be pumped up for relief and strength.