How to find time to practise between lessons (or learn something new)

This is the most common problem my students face … how to find time to practise between their German or Hungarian lessons. And I bet that’s a common dilemma for all of us, no matter what we’re learning. 

Honestly, I totally get it!

We all work an extreme lot, running multiple projects at times, our professional life is not free of stress and pressure, our schedule can be quite tight not allowing much flexibility, most of us have a relationship to take care of and partner to spend time with, family members to visit, friends to hang out with, events to attend, and honestly, I haven’t got a clue how my dear students can fit into this their morning and afternoon school runs, spending quality time with their children, looking after elderly parents, even do sports and train professionally … and then see me for a language coaching session. They really are amazing and an inspiration!

Fact:
To stay on your game, you do need to develop yourself all the time, and indeed it’s best if you can invest some time into practising a little between lessons.

But when for God’s sake I hear you saying? Well well well, not so fast, because – I am now going to point out times of your life you never thought you could use  to actually train yourself and learn something useful.

There are two things you’ll need though: a smartphone or a tablet and a few clever applications. It’s time to use technology to your advantage!

Ready? Come with me and I’ll show you how!

Number 1: Podcasts and audiobooks.

Podcasts and audiobooks can be your biggest friends when it comes to finding time to practice or doing something useful between lessons.

 

1. Housework.
All of us do the chores, even gents, I know from experience! (My hubby is amazing, he irons his shirts, does the washing up and laundry, and loves cleaning and cooking – can you believe how lucky I am?! Not that I don’t do housework every day – my speciality is tidying up after him …)

Let’s admit, these chores don’t require much brain capacity, and we can surely do something parallelly that doesn’t take our hands and focus away from the  actual task.
I’m sure that at times, you’re alone in the house doing the work and perhaps even listen to music in the meantime. What if you listened to podcasts and audiobooks in your target language instead? Put them on loudspeakers, immerse yourself in a story and learn without realising.

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Need to move around the house and it’s not a smart home :) ? Just put your phone in your pocket and take the sound with you. Source of picture:  Flickr.

I bet you’ve never measured how much time you actually spend daily/weekly doing housework, but you’d be surprised how much you can read (or rather listen to) while at it. Read on and I’ll reveal my personal statistics.

2. Driving on your own.
10 minutes to the supermarket, 10 minutes back, once a week. That’s 20 minutes per week, at least an hour a month you could use to listen and improve your language skills (or in fact, any skills).

3. Commuting.
Put those earphones in and listen! You don’t like earphones? Me neither, therefore I put in only one and leave my other ear free so I can hear what’s going on in the outside world and don’t look like a zombie on another planet.

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Some people read, others listen to music … and sew. Source of pic: James Crook on Flickr

4. Walking to the gym/train station/shop.
Again, earphones are your friends.

Apps: 

  • Audible: Audio books, tonnes of them. I’ve been using this app for 3 years and have read 41 books in total so far – some of them multiple times. Fantastic collection on personal and business development, biographies, fiction, you name it …
    If you want to know what my personal favourites are, just follow this link here.
  • For Hungarian podcasts, this website is a gem: letslearnhungarian.net
  • For German podcasts, there are loads, but my favourite is Deutsche Welle.
  • To listen to German news, use ZDF‘s app.
Number 2: Music streaming.

If you prefer music to books and stories, listen to bands from Germany / Hungary – or whatever language you’re studying, and try to piece together the meaning of songs.

Apps:

  • Spotify – Endless list of albums, great selections. Choose German / Hungarian singers and bands, find your favourites and enjoy learning new vocab without much effort.
  • Youtube – create your own playlists there, although not as handy as Spotify where your phone can be under screen lock, in your pocket and still streaming music …
Number 3: Video streaming.

1. Chilling out at home, on your own.
Doesn’t happen a lot, right? But when it does, put in your favourite film and watch it in the language you’re studying. Couldn’t finish the movie because your partner arrived who doesn’t speak a word in the language – add English subtitles, or just take the film with you on your smart phone and watch during your commute:

2. Commuting.
Not my  personal favourite because it requires visual concentration too, but I see more and more people on the train watching films on their phone/tablet.

Apps: I’m sure there are loads, I use Netflix. There are German films in there, although the collection is rather limited. Hungarian films streamed – not sure, if you know a platform, please shout out.

And a bonus: Change your phone’s language.

Just do it … super powerful, I can guarantee.

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So there you have it, how to use technology to make use of those time slots of your daily routine when you can easily multitask and hit two birds with one stone. (Do you know how we say this in German and Hungarian? Leave a comment below if you do J)

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What smart technologies do you use to maximise the efficiency of your language studies? What works for you and what doesn’t?
Leave a comment below and let us know.

As ever, thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience and insights with all of us.

With love,

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