Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
lemme_try
Yellow Belt
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
x 145

Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby lemme_try » Sun Feb 28, 2021 4:25 pm

I am sure a lot of people here have faced similar dilemma as myself. There are times when you are extremely busy, basically no time for anything. Then you have to face a dilemma of prioritising your limited time. Do you spend it on your family, friends, do sports, read for leisure, learn something useful, rest, or learn a language?! It is tough, and there are times when you are so run down that you don't feel like doing anything.

And learning a language is not a one time thing, you need to nurture it, and improve it constantly, at earlier stage it requires time input everyday. How do you find the energy? How do you find the time in such cases? I would love to hear your experiences, your time management techniques. Or any wisdom on this regard.

I am making a great stride with my french. It would be shame to stop it at this point. I am at the point, when I need use my brain whole day, everyday. And I don't know when I will be done with it. Tough. Life is always about trade offs isn't it?!
3 x

User avatar
jeff_lindqvist
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2296
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:52 pm
Languages: sv, en
de, es
ga, eo
---
fi, yue, ro, tp, cy, kw, pt, sk
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2773
x 5903

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Sun Feb 28, 2021 5:25 pm

These days I'm not doing much language wise. I start the day with a walk during which I listen to a target language. I do Anki reps. I read. Grammar? Exercises? Shadowing? Not right now. I have reasons for this. Whether listening / Anki / reading is enough (or even beneficial at all), I don't know. Well, of course it's good, to some extent. All the minutes add up.
4 x
Leabhair/Greannáin léite as Gaeilge: 9 / 18
Ar an seastán oíche: Oileán an Órchiste
Duolingo - finished trees: sp/ga/de/fr/pt/it
Finnish with extra pain : 100 / 100

Llorg Blog - Wiki

risbolle
White Belt
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:33 pm
Languages: Russian(N)
x 50

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby risbolle » Sun Feb 28, 2021 8:32 pm

lemme_try wrote:I am sure a lot of people here have faced similar dilemma as myself. There are times when you are extremely busy, basically no time for anything. Then you have to face a dilemma of prioritising your limited time. Do you spend it on your family, friends, do sports, read for leisure, learn something useful, rest, or learn a language?!

I'm in the self-same spot. I do all of the above, ideally combining two or more items in one. That ends up being:

- Listening to podcasts during long drives, work outs and hikes.
- Only picking my podcast hosts amongst those I really enjoy listening to, so it hardly feels like work. Alright, this may only work to a degree, but I've been lucky enough to find a few gems.
- Restricting the subject matter of my reading list to my professional domain, active pursuits and other areas of keen interest. This effectively limits it to native material; that's just tough luck initially.
- Foisting language-related conversation topics upon family and friends (serves to keep the motivation and learning context fresh). Got to be careful not to abuse the privilege.
- My favourite: studying language A using materials in B, where both A and B are my weak languages. I enjoy the mind-warping part of it.

I know, the choice in the above can be limited, and the progress may be slow and extremely lopsided.
5 x

User avatar
einzelne
Orange Belt
Posts: 175
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 546

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby einzelne » Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:03 am

Go easy and switch to the low maintenance mode. When you’re super ambitious and prefer to work hard to get to the required level as quick as possible, your excessive zeal can work against your. You might think, all right, I cannot read at least 50 pages as I normally do, I don’t have time for review sessions, reading grammar etc, so why would I even bother? So, instead of doing at least something, you do nothing.

Here’s what I got from my lockdown experience:

- Don’t start a new language, it won’t happen. (I fooled around with Latin but quickly dropped it)
- Set up some minimal goals but stick to them. Super minimal!
- Forget about demanding stuff.
- Cheat smartly.

Here’s how I implemented this approach:

- Reread books you already know: I reread La peste, since this was one of first French novels I read and I worked very thoroughly through it and I simply love it. It was a pleasure to reread it.
- As a person who usually reads classical and philosophical works, I started to read pulp fiction (sorry monsieur Proust and monsieur Levi-Strauss, but not this year)
- I set myself a goal to read just one chapter a day (usually, it was a 15 min segment of an audiobook).
- Smart cheating 1: I would read the Russian translation first. I decided to spare myself from an extra cognitive load: no deciphering!
- Smart cheating 2: After reading the chapter in Russian, I would read the chapter on my kindle app. I used pop-up dictionary even when a word would appeared several times and should be sort of familiar. Normally, I would try to strain my memory but this time, no, no extra cognitive pressure!
- I didn’t review new vocabulary in a systematic way. I tried to add useful words to quizlet in the beginning but I simply couldn’t stick to the routine. So I would simply re-listen to the chapters several times while walking my dog, while riding a bike etc.

It was a super lazy maintenance mode. What I discovered is that setting small goals actually results in bigger achievements. I rarely read a single chapter a day but actually at least a couple. As a result, I read more than a dozen novels in French and about half a dozen in German. I planned to read around one novel per month, but I usually I would finish it in less than 2 weeks.

Oh, and I completely ruined my attempts to read more fiction in English. Why? Precisely because I was too ambitious, since English is my strongest language! You set yourself a goal of reading at least 30 pages per day but end up with 0. I read just two novels.
6 x

Lisa
Orange Belt
Posts: 129
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:08 pm
Location: Oregon, United States
Languages: English (N) German (intermediate) Spanish (intermediate) French (beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=10854
x 348

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby Lisa » Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:24 am

I like that language learning can fill in tiny little gaps of space, I think it's a good hobby for busy people. At least, anki is easy to do in the ten minutes waiting for the coffee to kick in, while exercising, when I have five minutes in a waiting room, etc. I read the same sorts of books I'd be otherwise be reading in english, but read in translations to TL so I'm motivated to read them. Before lockdown I used driving time to listen to audiobooks. Basically the only time that is not what I'd have to do anyway, is adding new words to Anki. Unfortunately I don't seem to find time for the work to improve my grammar. However, since I find time to read and respond on this forum obviously that's me avoiding grammar, and not lack of time...

There are some days when my brain is too worn out to care. I have my anki separated into easy, medium and difficult words, so on those days I just study easy words and I do stop when my brain says enough. I think it would be a bad idea to push it at that point.
4 x

User avatar
Sumisu
White Belt
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:57 am
Location: USA
Languages: English (N) Japanese (B1?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 0c0a4beb42
x 137

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby Sumisu » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:03 am

I'm not the biggest fan of language apps, but I've found they're perfect for those five minute blocks you're limited to when you are very busy. I like memrise the best for this, but everyone has their favorite. I'm also a fan of finding a news program that's about five minutes long that I can listen to when commuting. If I'm super busy, even if I have a 30 minute commute, I just don't have the mental stamina to listen to a full 30 minutes during the commute. But forcing myself to start the commute with that 5 minute program every day at least keeps the ball rolling somewhat. Finally, you can talk to yourself. Try to describe what you're doing throughout the day in the target language (e.g. "I'm taking a shower)."
1 x

AndyMeg
Blue Belt
Posts: 620
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:44 pm
Languages: Spanish (N), English (B2-C1), Japanese (A2-B1), Korean (Upper-Beginner?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16457
x 1139

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby AndyMeg » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:32 am

I have a list of 10 language-related activities for Korean. 1 activity for Mandarin Chinese and 1 for Thai.

The activities for Mandarin Chinese and for Thai are really simple and low intensity. I'm using some apps to practice handwriting in those languages. I can see the letter/character I'm practicing in a light color or outlined and I can write over it (so I'm not trying to write them from memory, which would increase the intensity of this activity). For Chinese characters I divided a long list into groups of 5 characters each because that's a small enough quantity to not take too much time (or effort) before I can get it perfect (in this case I'm practicing the right stroke order, and I can only move on to a new subgroup of 5 Chinese characters after I've written perfectly all 5 characters one after the other. If I make a mistake in one, I complete the round with all the characters and then go back for a new round with the same subgroup of characters until I get a perfect round.

And for Thai is even more simple, I have an animation showing me how to write the letters and I just follow the animation. My goal with this is just to get familiar with Thai letters (I'm not even paying attention to the names of the letters or their sound).

For Korean I decided to keep track of my activities as a way to motivate me. I have a spreadsheet that lists the activities on the first column and then the days of the week on the next columns. Each activity and its corresponding row is color-coded so I can easily differentiate between activities on the grid. To make things easier for me, I put a circle on the corresponding part of the grid of the day I have engaged in a specific activity from the list. I don't have a minimum goal for each activity or in total. As long as I've engaged in any of the activities for that day (whether for 1 minute or 1 hour), I put the corresponding circle on the grid.

From doing this I can see there are some days I've been so busy or tired that I haven't engaged in any of the activities. But when I do engage on at least one activity, I've noticed these are the two that pop-up the most (because I really enjoy them and their intensity is very low):

- Watching TV shows or movies with audio (original or dubbed) in my native language (Spanish) and subtitles in my target language (Korean) at 0.75x speed. This activity is great for learning/reinforcing vocabulary in context while also having fun watching something I find interesting. I can also learn different ways of communicating the same idea, and reinforce/learn some grammar as well. This is my favorite activity for when I have time at the end of the day, but I'm too tired to do a more intensive activity. And it's also great for binge watching on weekends.

- Using "Memorion" (an Android app) in this way:
Instead of the usual SRS where new cards get activated for study each day, I decided to use Memorion's cram mode and activate, from the start, ALL cards in my two decks (it's actually just the same nouns deck two times, the first one asks from Korean to English and the second one from English to Korean). In total I activated 5516 cards.

This is from my log:

AndyMeg wrote:But I'm not trying to get through all those cards in a single day. I go to the learn section, see the cue and think about the answer and write it by hand. In the "Cram mode" I have three options for the repetition interval: Done (it doesn't show the card again), OK (which means it'll be presented again after 15 minutes) and Play/Again. I go through 20 cards or so at a time and then I get out of the Learn Mode. If I don't remember an answer completely right, then I choose the OK (15 minutes) interval, so that I don't risk meeting the word again within the same session and having to continue tackling it until I get it right during that session. The reason for this is that I'm using the "Cram mode" more for getting familiar with those words and paying attention to them so that when I find them while interacting with native material I'm more aware of them. Also, this strategy helps me to immediately eliminate from the study list those words that I already know rather well, and that way I can focus on getting more exposure to the unfamiliar words. So it still serves as a SRS path, but in a more relaxed way as I don't have to go through a specific number of cards each day and I don't have to repeat each card until perfection in any given session.


Something that I've added now is that I activate the handwriting option even when I don't know the answer and then click on the "show answer" button so that I can copy it by hand on the screen. I've found that it increases the probability of me remembering the right answer later on, but it still keeps the activity low intensity.

My ultimate goal would be to deactivate all cards from the Cram mode by being able to handwrite them instantly and thus choose the "Done" option for each of them. I'm slowly reducing the "still active for Cram" cards and seeing that number get lower motivates me.

Also, Memorion has different games, and I've found out that the lowest intensity games for me are these two:

--> "Hang'Em": It's a "hangman game". It shows me a hint in Korean and I have to guess the English equivalent/meaning before the hanging man diagram is completed.

--> "Just Listen": This one is ideal for when I'm doing the dishes or a similar activity. It shows an audiovisual cue in a language and it gives me some time to think about the answer before it tells me the answer. I can choose any delay for the answer between 0 seconds and 10 seconds. I usually make the delay last between 3 and 4.5 seconds.

Memorion is great for using at small periods of time throughout the day.

By the way, I'm currently watching some Thai and Chinese TV/Web dramas (with English subs); but just for fun, as I'm not using them for active study.
3 x

lemme_try
Yellow Belt
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
x 145

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby lemme_try » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:38 am

risbolle wrote:I'm in the self-same spot. I do all of the above, ideally combining two or more items in one. That ends up being:

- Listening to podcasts during long drives, work outs and hikes.
- Only picking my podcast hosts amongst those I really enjoy listening to, so it hardly feels like work. Alright, this may only work to a degree, but I've been lucky enough to find a few gems.
- Restricting the subject matter of my reading list to my professional domain, active pursuits and other areas of keen interest. This effectively limits it to native material; that's just tough luck initially.
- Foisting language-related conversation topics upon family and friends (serves to keep the motivation and learning context fresh). Got to be careful not to abuse the privilege.
- My favourite: studying language A using materials in B, where both A and B are my weak languages. I enjoy the mind-warping part of it.

I know, the choice in the above can be limited, and the progress may be slow and extremely lopsided.



Reading and studying languages are my guilty pleasures now. I have so much going on I need to take care of, but instead I get lost in the books and studying languages. It gives you false sense of accomplishment, but does not solve your immediate problems. I think it is my escapism, and I am avoiding what I actually need to do.

I wish my French and Mandarin was good enough so I can just read in original as I go, but I am still far from that level. I like your method though. Maybe in the future I can kill two birds with one stone, and reading a book will be my maintenance of a language. One can hope, lol.
2 x

lemme_try
Yellow Belt
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
x 145

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby lemme_try » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:52 am

Sumisu wrote:I'm not the biggest fan of language apps, but I've found they're perfect for those five minute blocks you're limited to when you are very busy. I like memrise the best for this, but everyone has their favorite. I'm also a fan of finding a news program that's about five minutes long that I can listen to when commuting. If I'm super busy, even if I have a 30 minute commute, I just don't have the mental stamina to listen to a full 30 minutes during the commute. But forcing myself to start the commute with that 5 minute program every day at least keeps the ball rolling somewhat. Finally, you can talk to yourself. Try to describe what you're doing throughout the day in the target language (e.g. "I'm taking a shower)."


I don't know. I hate language apps. I hate duolingo and memrise, especially duolingo, hate it to the core. But currently, I really like anki though. Memrise used to be decent, but they kept messing around so I stopped using a while ago.

After sticking to a book, I realised nothing beats conventional methods: grammar overview, grammar drills, writing down sentences, reading, listening to the tapes, shadowing, simply to put it, deliberate practice. So, it takes time and attention. Maybe, anki could work while I am commuting.
0 x

lemme_try
Yellow Belt
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
x 145

Re: Finding time for languages when you are extremely busy

Postby lemme_try » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:03 am

jeff_lindqvist wrote:These days I'm not doing much language wise. I start the day with a walk during which I listen to a target language. I do Anki reps. I read. Grammar? Exercises? Shadowing? Not right now. I have reasons for this. Whether listening / Anki / reading is enough (or even beneficial at all), I don't know. Well, of course it's good, to some extent. All the minutes add up.



When I was living in China, I was hit by a car while listening to an audiobook. Has been a decade, and my shoulder has not fully recovered. There is nothing to be done. So I never put headphones on when I walk. But I do use aftershockz when I jog, bone conduction headphones, and you basically can hear the surrounding. I like jogging long distances, so sometimes it gets so intense and I fall into a trance, and I hear the audio but my brain does not register it. So I've started fully focusing on the task at hand. And I noticed great benefits. After jogging, my mind is not as fatigued as it used to be. When I only focus on the language, I retain more, I feel happier with my progress. When I read, I try to allocate chunk of time, and don't like to be disturbed. Works great.

Does doing anki and listening audio help you to maintain the language? Would you say it works? What do you think?
2 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests