Lack of time is often cited as a reason not to learn another language, or take on any other project. This is at best a poor rationalization that falters if given serious consideration. Certainly time management is one of the hardest parts of doing anything in life that is worth while. There are only 24 hours in a day and everyone has to sleep, eat, etc. So it can be difficult to find time for learning another language or doing that big project one has been planning. However, it is worth it! Here are some tips on time management for language learners (or anyone else):
Use ‘dead time’: This is probably one of the most recommended things on language learning sites and in books about language learning. Put simple using “dead time” is just using time when one has nothing else to do (stuck on an elevator, driving*) to learn/ practice one’s target language.
*While driving pay attention to the road and all traffic conditions and signs. Distracted driving can lead to serious accidents which may cost large sums of money and cause injury. However, driving is also dead time in a way. If one is going to listen to the radio, listen to a language learning podcast, lesson tape, or radio programme in the target language. If one does not like listening to things while driving but likes talking to oneself, talk in one’s target language.
Use Social Media as a language learning outlet: Many people spend a great deal of time using social media sites. This is time that is by and large utterly wasted. However, the point here is not to advocate abandoning social media outlets, indeed they are an invaluable tool in the modern society. Social media feeds can be turned into hubs of language learning. There is news available in most languages on the internet, many news sites also have social media accounts, following these can infuse one’s social media feed with international news in one’s target language. There are also on-line communities for language learners (both specific languages and in general). One can like Facebook pages, join Google+ communities, and subscribe to sub-Reddits for almost any language (including Latin and Ancient Greek.)
Turning otherwise non-language learning activities into language learning activities: While watching videos on the internet it is very easy to watch such videos in one’s target language. There are books in a great many languages. Learn another language through one’s target language (id est instead of learning another language through English, learn through another language).
Plan ahead: A big problem in time management is not planning ahead. Set up a time-table, schedule in a few minutes or an hour of language learning time to use that glossy textbook or fancy teach yourself book.
Knowing limits: Not the calculus kind, the personal kind. It might not be possible for everyone to set aside an hour of language learning time each day, but it is still possible through doing little things, to learn a new language.