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How To Fit Language Learning Into Your Day When You Barely Have Time

Who isn’t busy these days? Here’s how you make headway on a language if you only have 1, 5, 10 or 15 minutes to spare.
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How To Fit Language Learning Into Your Day When You Barely Have Time

Mastery of a new language can only come through consistent practice and exposure. In a practical sense, this means committing to a more or less daily habit, which is easier said than done for most people with a full-time job, a family, and other obligations outside of work. How accommodating does your language-learning schedule have to be in order to sustain it?

One of the positions we advocate the most at Babbel is that you don’t have to spend hours every day studying in order to learn a language. Actually, 15 minutes a day (sustained over time) is plenty sufficient to see noticeable progress, and relatively quickly.

But what happens if even 15 minutes is too much to ask? Surely something is better than nothing, and we’re here to let you know that your language-learning schedule can (and should) be able to accommodate mini study sessions when the rest of life just won’t get out of the way.

Here are some suggestions for how to shrink your language-learning schedule to fit your needs.

Language-Learning Schedule Breakdowns For All Types Of (Brief) Free Time

When You Have: 1 Minute

Barely any time to spare? Perfect time for a lightning review session.

Flashcards are a great method for quickly recalling words, grammar rules, and verb conjugations you’ve already learned to reinforce your existing knowledge and move it into your long-term memory.

If you only have one minute on a given day, see how many flashcards you can get through in 60 seconds (and note how many you got right). It’s a good idea to put the ones you got wrong into a separate pile so you can drill them some more.

You can do this the analogue way, or easily do a speed review session through Babbel’s Review Manager, which keeps track of what’s ready for review (and what you’re still struggling to master).

When You Have: 5 Minutes

Five minutes may not be enough time to complete a full language lesson, but you have more options than reviewing terms you’ve already learned (though that is also a great use of your time).

In five minutes, you could also:

  • Introduce yourself to seven new vocabulary terms (the perfect amount for your brain to absorb in one go)
  • Run conjugation tables for five verbs
  • Write a short diary entry or social media post in your learning language about how your day went

When You Have: 10 Minutes

Ten minutes may not feel like much, but at this point, you’re kind of cooking with gas.

This is the window of time you often have available to you when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, commuting on the subway, waiting in your car to pick someone up, or waiting for the oven timer to go off.

While you wait, you can:

  • Attempt to translate a paragraph of written text
  • Watch an instructional YouTube video
  • Run some pronunciation drills
  • Hold a dialogue with a study partner (if you have one)

When You Have: 15 Minutes

Great news — 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to do a Babbel lesson on your phone. In this amount of time, you can introduce yourself to a small handful of new vocabulary terms, practice using them in the context of a natural-sounding dialogue, drill the spelling and pronunciation, and learn relevant grammar rules.

You can also:

  • Listen to a short podcast episode in your learning language
  • Read a chapter of a foreign-language novel
  • Study a chapter of a textbook (if that’s your style)
  • Google and research something in your learning language
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