Most people think they just wouldn’t have the time to put into learning a foreign language. However, the truth is you don’t need to spend endless hours studying to make satisfactory progress. It cannot be denied that to learn a language you do have to put in considerable time and effort as with anything that is worthwhile doing, but this can be easily built in to your daily life.
The key is to try to spend between 15 and 30 minutes per day doing something related to the language. It doesn’t have to be poring over a difficult grammar book, it could be spent listening to a podcast and noting down new words, reading the headlines of an online foreign newspaper, listening to a song, writing your diary in the language or sending an email to your language exchange partner.
• A paced routine will give better results over the longer term. If you take in small amounts of new vocabulary but regularly you will retain the language for longer than if you try to learn a great long list of words in one weekly session and then don’t get to look at it again for a whole week. Take the time every day to review the previous day’s new words and phrases. This is essential to keep them fresh in your mind.
• If you know you only have to fit in 30 minutes each day this is much more manageable and practical as you will be less likely to put it off for another day by finding excuses to do other things. Shorter sessions will prevent burnout and you are more likely to continue learning the language and not give up because you find you don’t have the time.
• By sticking to a daily routine it will become second nature to you. It will become an important part of your day, on par with time spent eating, sleeping or exercising. Whether it is listening to a CD on your way home from work, reading a book before going to bed or going through some flashcards after dinner, make sure you do something language-related every day.
• If you were to try to set aside a 2-3 hour session you would find that you would get easily distracted by other things; checking your phone, answering emails, checking your Facebook or Twitter etc. If you know you are dedicating just 30 minutes of intensive study time your mind is less likely to wander and you can really engage your mind.