Learning a language, even when you’re busy

You’d like to learn a new language, or maybe you already did that but because you don’t practice, you feel like you’re forgetting everything ? You’re scrolling through language apps, not knowing which one to pick, and wondering if you will even have enough time to actually learn something ? Say no more.

For the little piece of background story, I started to learn Korean during my first year of university. I learned for 4 years, spent a year in South Korea as an exchange student, and then… Nothing. I chose an international master’s degree but they didn’t have Korean courses, and then I worked at an international level, but then again my Korean was not needed. I was not fluent, so it could not be used in a professional context.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love this language anymore. I’d love to be fluent, it is one of my dreams, to finally watch a kdrama and understand everything. To talk to one of my Korean friends without having to search for words on Naver.

So I decided to study Korean again. But. I can’t dedicate too much time to this, because my schedule is already quite packed. If like me you’re wondering how to make studying a language fit into your busy life, please keep reading !

Here are a little list I’ve made :

  • Duolingo. No, I’m not promoting Duolingo, I’m not getting any money out of that haha. I just tried a few apps, and honestly, Duolingo is the best. Or should I say, it’s the most interactive. Lessons are well made, not too short but not too long, you can practice reading, writing, hearing and speaking, and you won’t feel bored, you may even find it funny. With Duolingo, you can learn at your own pace, without feeling like this is a burden.
  • TV shows. It’s the easiest way to get used to hearing your target language. Of course, watching tv shows is not going to make you fluent, otherwise I would already be fluent in Korean, but it’s a great way to get used to the language, and pick up some expressions or words. Depending on your level, watch it with the subtitles in your native language, then with the subtitles in the target language, so you can try to understand it more on your own.
  • Podcasts. They can be a nice way to practice understanding your target language, and it allows you to do something else, or you can just listen to it on your way to work, or your way home. Of course, this is for the ones who already have a good level in their target language.
  • Cartoons. Yes, the ones for kids. If you’re a beginner or even at intermediate level, watching cartoons in your target language is the best way to really assimilate basic vocabulary and grammar into your brain. It can also help you get away from the academic sentences you usually learn in books, which are outdated.
  • Friends. Having a friend in your target language, or just someone you can practice with, is the best way to improve your speaking skills (and/or writing skills if you’re texting). The best way to speak a language is to practice, and speaking is very important. I would not recommend apps that are specialized in language exchange because most of the times there’s more flirting involved than anything else, to stay polite. Try to see if there are maybe cultural associations linked to your target language in your city, that’s your best pick. Associations organize festivals, conventions, they host free language courses sometimes, I think it’s the best way to get into contact with native people of your target language, unless you actually travel to the country of your target language, of course.
  • Books. Depending on your target language, you may find tons of books to learn the language, or just a few. If you’re lucky and have plenty of choice, don’t hesitate to pick a few. A grammar book never hurts, really. Children’s books can also be a nice way to practice reading and understanding. When your level is good enough, you can switch to YA novels, then to adult novels. For example, for English as a second language, I know that reading novels and fanfictions helped me way more than studying the grammar. (But the thing is, English grammar is much closer to French grammar, than Korean, so… yeah.)
  • Classes. You can also take classes, of course. This might not be the easiest thing to do if you’re working, but if you live in a big city and your target language is ‘popular’, you should find it easily. There are also online classes, but I’m not a big fan of it, unless we’re talking about private lessons. I may be old school, but I prefer learning a language with a teacher who is really there in the room, and with other students I can also interact with directly, and even learn from, thanks to the questions they ask. I don’t want to struggle with not hearing properly because of the internet connexion or something like that.

I hope these tips helped you or inspired you to maybe try (again) to learn a language or improve your level in a language. I will also have to follow my own tips, and I hope that my level in Korean will steadily improve haha. Pray for me. I will pray for you.

Are you learning a new language ? Trying to improve ? If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share !

I hope you all have a lovely day. See you next Wednesday !

Marie.

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