Thanks for reading the third post in our Polyglot Workshops series. If you haven’t seen our last two posts, save time by checking them out here: building vocabulary and setting your language-learning goals. Speaking of saving time, Olly Richards led the next session about time management.
He explained how learners often try to “find time for language learning.” However, serious language learners do not just treat it like a hobby. In order to “make time” for this important endeavor, you have to change your lifestyle. This is the same method used for those who want to eat healthier and/or lose weight. Therefore, language learning needs to become a habit.
Olly explained how it can be a gradual change. If you can find 30 seconds in your day to review vocabulary, often, these 30 seconds turn into minutes, and before you know it, even hours. This kind of mindset can trick you into a devoted language study session.
The polyglots mentioned one of the attendees at a past workshop as an example. The attendee had asked about how he could achieve one of his Spanish goals: to be able to participate in a Spanish business meeting. The attendee said that he has been studying with textbooks for years, and was committed, so he was understandably frustrated at his lack of progress in meeting his goal. However, the polyglots explained that if your goal is to be able to understand Spanish business meetings, you should listen to Spanish business meetings!
Another great piece of advice was to differentiate between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks could be cooking meals, studying, going to work, etc., while important tasks could be things you highly value, such as language learning, family time, a hobby, etc. Urgent tasks have to get done, so you have to schedule your important tasks ahead of time. Olly explained that you cannot get what you want to get done without a consistent plan. Free time is useless unless you know what to do with it.
One of the important points that Olly brought up in this session was that you need to actually schedule your time rather than put your tasks on a to-do list. They don’t account for time, so you should work from the calendar rather than the to-do list. He recommended that you carve out at least one 15 minute chunk of time each week.
This leads into another point about how to best use your time with your language-learning efforts, including how to best use your time with your language tutor. The polyglots have just created a video series where they answer this question (and several others) from the workshop.
To learn more, watch the rest of the Q&A videos from the Polyglot Workshops in NYC.
Just like the attendee who wanted to understand Spanish business meetings, Olly had been studying Japanese for two years and wanted to be able to sit in a café and enjoy a conversation with a Japanese speaker. He realized that he had been doing everything except speaking.
The main takeaway from this session was that language learning needs to become a habit — and the simpler the better. You can develop tiny habits such as 30 seconds of vocabulary learning or listening to your target language(s) on the way to work.
You can create even more accountability for these tiny habits by associating certain actions with them. For example, every time you get in your car, you listen to your target language or each time you get home, you review 30 seconds of vocabulary.
This can further help you to develop your “language lifestyle.”
Be on the lookout for the next and final installment in this series about gaining fluency in a language.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Mango Languages gives you over 70 languages to choose from, so start fulfilling your polyglot dreams by choosing one (or 21!) and conquering the world. Find out if you can get access to Mango Languages free of charge through a public library near you!