An organized approach to achieving a goal is always more effective than a haphazard attempt. Drawing up a study plan will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals.
Remember your school days, where you were allocated schedules and time slots for each and every subject you had to learn?
I suggest you do the same with your task of learning any new language. For example, Monday for learning French, Tuesday for learning German and so on. You get the idea I’m sure.
If you are working on just a single language, spread the various skills (reading, writing, and speaking) over different days.
At the same time, bear in mind that all the organization and planning in the world will not help you if you do not stick to your plan.
We all tend to devote more time to doing what we like or are good at. While learning a new language is fun and exciting, there are definitely going to be some times when it starts to become dull and repetitive.
Don’t ever use this as an excuse and constantly enforce the study plan that you have made. Sticking to your study plan religiously could very well allow you to master the language much earlier than expected.
What if the plan doesn’t work out for you at first?
Good question. And it’s likely to happen.
If, for example, you feel you are mastering French quicker than German, you might consider changing your Study Plan.
Do the same if you are learning just one language but feel you are doing better at a certain skill than the others.
Having a schedule is important. However, it is just as important to make full use of the hidden periods of time scattered throughout your day. See, if you can identify these bits of time that would otherwise be wasted, then you won’t have to make time for learning. Instead, you just make better use of the time you already have.
Do you realize that life is full of small time periods of “waiting”?
You wait at the bus-stop for the bus to arrive. You wait at the dentist for your appointment. You wait at the restaurant for your food.
Rather than wasting this time spent waiting, you can use it to work on your new language.
Most language guides come in pocket-sized versions and can easily be carried around. If you have one of these handy, you could get some studying done whenever you have free time while you wait
Even if you don’t have one of these books, there are still ways to utilize these “waiting” time periods. Play out a dialog you heard yesterday, or listen to a song in the target language while you’re standing in queue for a bus. It doesn’t take a lot of effort.
Another time to study the language is when you are “not doing anything particular”. And what do I mean when I say “not doing anything particular”?
When you are sitting on a bus on your thirty minute commute to work, you’re not doing anything in particular. You can utilize this time to learning a language. You don’t even have to carry around books wherever you go, you can just download foreign language podcasts or songs onto your iPod.
When you’re ironing your clothes in the morning, you can always tune into a foreign language news broadcast on the radio. Or when you’re doing your laundry, or folding your clothes or even waiting for your cake to bake, you can always multi-task and squeeze in a little time to learn.
If you pay some more attention to how you spend your days, you will find many more of these little time slots that you can fill with studying a new language.
Although long breaks make you lose touch with the language and are often discouraged, you have to be aware of the other extreme… information overload.
While studying hard has its benefits, there is only so much knowledge your brain can absorb at any given period of time.
If you start feeling like your head would burst if you as much as read another sentence, this is a warning for you to take a break from studying.
Engage in a completely unrelated activity to give your brain a break, and some time to digest the information.
A break leaves you feeling refreshing and raring to go again!