It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the internet’s smorgasbord of learning opportunities. After all, there’s only so much time in a single day and at one point, you have to decide which interests to actually pursue, and which to set aside.
British vlogger, influencer, and fellow digital native Holly Gabrielle — known on YouTube and Instagram for her lifestyle content on everything from veganism to her studying regimen — walked me through her own journey back to languages.
Holly describes herself as an ambitious lifelong learner. “Productivity should be my middle name. I thrive off routines, adore to-do lists, and simply strive to make the most of my time,” she says.
It’s no surprise that after graduating from Cambridge University, Holly decided to take a gap year to challenge herself in new ways. She traveled solo around Australia, coached students in their studies and, to help make education more accessible, even started her own network of tutors. She also used a language learning app to rekindle her love for languages and dust off her German.
Read on to discover the steps Holly took to revive her passion and relearn a language.
1. Finding The Right Level
If you’ve ever taken a language class and later regretted not pursuing it further (guilty here), Holly’s story might sound familiar. Holly relished her many years of German class, but she faced a tough choice when deciding what subjects to take in her last two years of secondary school. In the end, she chose not to pursue German. Holly’s fondness for the language never waned, however, and years later, she was hit by a spontaneous urge to revisit it.
So, how did she begin the relearning process? Holly knew she had a solid foundation of knowledge thanks to the excellent German instruction she received in school, so she decided to ditch the textbooks and relaunch her studies with a language learning app instead. “The fact that I can tailor my learning according to a certain level is incredibly useful. For example, when I first downloaded Babbel on my phone, I started with the beginner courses to refresh my knowledge, and have now progressed on to more advanced ones.”
She kept a handle on newly-gained knowledge with the help of Babbel’s built-in review manager. “Constantly reviewing what I’ve previously learned is integral to all learning, and with this app, I can easily refresh new vocabulary, grammar rules, or pronunciation,” she said.
2. Setting Learning Goals
Of course, Holly’s motivation to refresh her German didn’t come from out of the blue. An important step in starting an activity is identifying what you ultimately want to accomplish with it. Holly told me a bit about her own incentives for learning German again. “Within such a globalized and integrated society, I believe that learning a second language can open many new doors and opportunities.” And the downtime she had during her gap year was the perfect chance to take on the rewarding challenge of reaching fluency in German.
As many language learners know, it can be helpful to clearly define what you actually want to get out of your new language. Holly told me that one of her concrete goals is traveling back to Germany, where she hopes to be able to seamlessly navigate public transportation, order a meal, or book a hostel reservation. Learning German fits nicely into the future Holly envisions for herself. “I’m hoping that with the nature of my online work, I’ll easily be able to travel and move around in the future, especially when this becomes easier after the pandemic.”
3. Sustainable Language Learning
As someone who intentionally keeps herself busy and productive with routines, Holly knows the importance of managing time well, and she recognized the challenge of integrating new learning goals into her daily schedule. Thankfully, as Holly made clear, language learning doesn’t have to be an intense, mind-draining process.
Babbel’s lessons are designed to be completed in 15-minute chunks, which, especially on busy days, feel just long enough, Holly said. “To me, I’ve found that consistency is very important. As a result, short but regular bursts of practice seem to be most efficient and proactive.”
And because Babbel is a mobile app, Holly often finds herself learning when she’s on the go or doing another activity, like going for a walk. “I feel as if the app is my ‘teacher’ that I carry around with me everywhere,” said Holly. The benefits of learning in short bursts and carrying a mobile teacher (in reality, a team of 150+ language experts) in your pocket don’t stop there. In the same way that cramming before a test isn’t as effective as multiple days of consistent preparation, a sustainable language learning routine requires habitual, repetitive practice.
Holly spoke directly to this reality: “In school I seemed to learn phrases off by heart, whereas now I’m learning the language in a more sustainable way. I’ve managed to fit in learning German as a second language alongside everything else I try to juggle in life.”
Want to learn a new language, or one that’s already familiar to you, while maximizing your time?
Try Babbel today.