How to Learn a New Language Effectively for 9-5 Professionals
You’re probably learning a new language, and you know that there are so many benefits you can get from it. However, what you don’t understand is how you can start this journey because you have a job and you work 40 hours per week, and you have to spend the rest of your time with family, friends and in fact, maybe one side business or two.
Does this sound like you?
Well, then congratulations, because this is the answer to your questions and the solution to your language learning problems.
This article is not only going to teach you how to get started with learning a new language by yourself, but also give you tips and tricks to navigate through your language-learning journey effectively while having a lot of fun. Also, we are going to talk about a few resources that you will definitely find useful and most likely would start using right away.
Before we move on, have you decided which language you’d like to learn? If you have, continue reading. However, if you haven’t, save yourself the headache and use this guide you to decide which language is best for you to learn.
Let’s get started!
Set End Goals
If you don’t already have one, you need to set your end goals. What do you want to achieve out of your language learning journey? Do you just want to learn how to communicate in a basic manner, or you would like to know how to communicate fluently in your target language (TL)? Would you like to take certification exams or you’re only invested in speaking fluently without a need for any proof?
Whatever it is, you need to set your goal(s), and then break them into smaller, achievable, and time-bound chunks so that you have more clarity and it’s easier to measure and achieve.
Learn languages on the go
Many times, we let so much time go by while we are ‘waiting’. It could be waiting for a bus, in a queue, for a hospital appointment, for a lecture, or for a meeting.
The point is that you can use your waiting time more wisely by using it to revise your target language. Wait, before you smirk, it doesn’t have to be anything serious. Just using your new vocabulary in sentences, watching a short video in your target language, listening to a song or even a quick recap of the last grammar topic you learned will go a very long way in reaching your language learning goals.
What are the daily habits you’ve already cultivated? The ones you never miss, like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth before going to bed at night.
Yes, those ones. You can stack language learning to one or two of those habits. Not too many, so it doesn’t become too tasking.
An example is ‘I revise grammar every day for 10 minutes after my yoga session’, or ‘I watch a video in my target language every time I eat dinner’.
Of course, yours doesn’t have to be this exactly, but stacking your language learning with a new habit is definitely going to save you lots of time, and help you reach your language learning goals faster.
The Travel University
If you work or study physically and you take the bus or train, then this is simply made for you.
The idea is that anytime you’re on the bus on your way to or from work/school, you spend most of the time learning your target language.
Again, little drops of water make an ocean. You don’t have to do anything complex while you’re on the move, some revision and usage of language learning resources is just fine.
Just 10 Minutes
The ‘just 10 minutes’ idea is that you either sleep 10 minutes later than usual or wake up 10 minutes earlier than normal. The 10 minutes should be directed towards your language learning, and although you can do anything you like, I advise that you learn new vocabulary during this time.
Make a language learning schedule
The truth is language learning is just as important as many of the things on your to-do list, and it’s important that you also make it a priority.
I understand that you’re busy, but just 20 minutes a day can do the magic/trick if combined with all of the tips that have been listed above.
It could be scheduled anytime and for as long as you want, but it is important to schedule it and stay consistent.
Create a Plan
Now that you have the time to learn your target language, how exactly do you go about it?
So, yes, you NEED a plan.
We all know that a language is comprised of 4 different parts – writing, speaking, listening, and reading – and you want to learn these four components, even if your goal is to speak just the basics of the language.
In learning and practicing these 4 practical parts, there are two other components that you need: grammar and vocabulary. So, in total, let’s say we have 6 different aspects!
You can focus on one aspect a day, and study for 6 days a week, but you can also learn your language in any way you want it. If you have more time, you can study two components every day of the week. This depends on you.
Now that you know the 6 components you need to work on, you need to create a list of things you have to learn under each category.
A quick tip I’d give you is to use the CEFR level to create your learning structure. Do you know what the CEFR levels are? No? No worries, you can check here.
After listing out the topics or things you need to learn under each category, we move on to the next step.
Choose Your Resources
We are all different individuals with different learning methods, hence, the number one tip for choosing your resources is to choose what works best for you.
For example, if you love learning through working with textbooks, then you should make textbooks a part of the resources you want to explore for your language learning.
There are so many resources online, that it is a waste to just stick to one. Short stories, videos, apps, audio notes, online courses, and so many others. It’s important to explore, and not limit yourself by sticking to a particular one. A mix of this and that would be perfect for you. In fact, you can use resources based on the 6 components we had earlier mentioned.
Do you remember them?
Listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar – try to memorize them now.
Language Learning Resources
A digital resource that is highly recommended is the Lingodeer app, and this is for so many reasons. Some of them are –
– it teaches languages and not their separate parts,
– unlike many other apps, it uses a grammar-based structure,
– it makes language learning easy through gamification,
– it has strategic pacing from basic to advanced level,
– it provides tips for language learners like you as they progress in their language-learning journey,
– it allows you to customize your language learning environment and
– it is FUN!
Another resource that cuts across multiple languages is the Reverso context, and it is one of the most accurate when it comes to the dictionary, translation, grammar check, conjugation, and usage of words based on context. You can check it out here.
If you enjoy reading short texts, then you can read stories in your target language from basic to advanced levels using Lingua.com, as they offer a range of reading materials and text types at varying difficulty levels, including novice, intermediate, and advanced. Our articles, short stories, and dialogues will engage language students of many languages. You can check it out here.
There are so many other language-learning resources that will help you navigate through your language-learning journey, and you can check a few of them out here.
Make it Fun
A lot of people limit language learning to textbooks and courses, but the truth is, the best and most effective way to learn a language by yourself is to make sure you are enjoying it.
If you find language learning boring, then it would be quite difficult to stick to it and stay consistent. However, if it is something so fun that you look forward to it every day, then there is a much higher probability that you will show up and stay consistent.
How do you make language learning fun for yourself? The only person that can answer that question is you.
This is because like I said, people are very different and we have different interests. Fun is quite relative, and while I might find something fun, you might not.
Hence, you need to find out ways to make language learning fun for yourself and implement it.
An example is if you love cooking, then watching cooking shows and trying out new recipes in your target language is definitely going to make you happy. If you love reading novels, reading your favorite novel in your target language is definitely a way to make language learning fun for you.
So, find out what you love doing and incorporate your language learning into it.
The only reason why drops of water make an ocean is that they’re consistent. One single drop of water cannot make an ocean, and even 10 drops of water cannot. So, you see, if you want to reach your language learning goals, you need to stay consistent.
A few tips on how to stay consistent are already above – use your waiting time and stack your habits, schedule your language learning and make it fun, and most importantly, have SMART goals and have the plan to accomplish them.
Have a Fall-Back Method
All of the above said, it’s important to remember that you’re only human, and even if you’re disciplined and try your best to stay consistent, there are days when you will feel tired, days when unforeseen circumstances will come up, and days when you just want to give up.
I have the best antidote for this, and it is the FALL-BACK method.
The fallback method means that it’s okay to fall back, but you need to fall on a bouncer – something that would push you back up.
Let me give you an example.
If you just feel tired, which will happen several times, then you need to do something very passive that will rekindle your energy and passion for language learning.
One very good example is watching videos of successful polyglots giving tips and tricks to language learning, and then going to sleep right after.
Trust me, you’d wake up differently.
Asides from feeling motivated by the speaker, you also learn a thing or two from the tips that usually you can put into practice.
A total win-win situation.
Now, enough talk, it is time for ACTION!
Set your end goals, make your plan, choose your resources wisely, make it fun, and have the intention and discipline to stay consistent.
But first, let’s start by commenting on what you think about these tips and then, get your pen and paper (could be digital) to start your language learning journey!