Finding Time to Learn a New Language

treasure-chestThe last thing a busy person need is another job to put on the list. What they really need is more fun. So instead of making the issue of time another chore where you must rearrange your schedule, why not make it more like an adventure. Time is the treasure. You are the Treasure Hunter. Time is there. We all have it. Try getting creative and finding that hidden time in your day that could be used for something important. Here’s some examples from my life.

language CDs1. Driving to work – great time to listen to a language CD/tape or foreign radio. Depending on how long it takes you to get to work, this could be a substantial part of your learning time. And the great thing about being in the car is that you can practise your speaking without worrying about too many people listening (only your passengers).

2. Public Transport to work – You can still do the listening, but will probably be limited with your speaking practise! If you are privileged to have a seat it would be a good time to practise your reading and writing.

flashcards3. Waiting to pick up children – If you have kids you will know how much time in your week is spent sitting waiting to pick up your children. Apart from school 5 days a week there are after school activities, and if you have a few children, this time really adds up. So keep a few memory cards in the car so you can use those snippets of time to practise what you’ve been learning. You can even get flashcards for you mobile phone! Every little bit counts. Little and often is the best.

4. Computer Time: There are plenty of great free online language tools. Pick one and spend 5 minutes a day playing on there. Here are some sites I have found helpful:




Tranparent Language

learnchineseeveryday (This one I have only just found but looks really good for Chinese!)

Apart from the last one, I have used all these resources and enjoyed them. Some are better for particular languages. Get in there and have a go and see which one you like. There are so many resources out there, just start with one.

If you are already using sites let me know which ones you like.

5. Stick words around the house – this is a classic one and so effective. After the initial work of making your signs, all you do and go about your normal business and you are continually reminded of the words you are learning because they are staring you in the face. The added bonus is that there is a visual memory tag that goes with the word – stick the word to the thing – “book” on a book, “table” on the table etc. See the movie The Colour Purple for a great example of this!

words around the house

Please let me know how your treasure hunt for time goes, and where you uncover that hidden time that allows you to do something new (like learn a language) today!


3 replies
  1. Anon
    Anon says:

    Great tips! Would be good to pass on to the international students we work with to help improve with their English skills.

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