Build Language Learning Into Your Routine

Get Fluent Quickly by Building Language Learning Into Your Routine

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The Best Way to Learn a Language is to Use the Language

Have you ever started studying a new language and failed? 

Maybe you spent months or years studying grammar books and still found that you couldn’t communicate very well. Maybe you’ve even gotten to a place where you felt like speaking a new language is not for you. 

Well, you are not alone. Language learning is difficult, and we often go about learning a new language in ways that aren’t effective. As a language teacher, I can tell you that it’s common for my students to think that they have to learn every possible grammar rule and memorize every word.

Oh, the drama of learning a language. 

dramatic drama GIF

But memorizing grammar rules is not the best way to learn a language. The best way to learn a language is to use the language—and use it consistently. Sure, you need some understanding of the grammar and you need vocabulary. But learning through conversation or by engaging with texts in your target language.

Pimsleur’s language lessons are great for this because they build up gradually and focus on learning through real conversation exchange. But there are other ways you can surround yourself with constant stimuli to build language learning into your daily routine.

Here, I’ll share with you some of my favorite simple and effective ways to build language learning into your day so that you’re consistently engaging with it. 

8 Simple and Effective Ways to Build Language Learning Into Your Daily Routine

1. Change the Language on Your Phone

How many hours a day are you on your phone? RescueTime estimates that people spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes a day, with the top 20% of smartphone users spending upwards of 4 hours and 30 minutes. Surprised?

How to Change the Language on Your Phone
A smartphone can be extremely useful to help you learn anything, especially a new language.
Photo by Neil Soni on Unsplash

Why not make that time that you’re learning your language? 

One way to do this is to set your device’s language to the language you want to learn. With this simple action, you’ll quickly and naturally learn a ton of vocabulary. If you’re learning Portuguese, for example, imagine how it would be like if, every time you checked your phone, you saw “Segunda-feira” instead of Monday, or “Amanda está ligando” instead of “Amanda is calling”. Your phone will become an immersion device. 

Here are instructions for changing your language with Apple and Android devices. 

2. Make an App Part of Your Morning Routine

There are literally thousands of apps to improve your language and vocabulary

They range from dictionary apps to games that teach new words to specific apps for language learning. Some of them send daily notifications at specific times to remind you to study. Our favorite, of course, is the Pimsleur app, available for both Android and iOS

Ways to Build Language Learning Into Your Daily Routine
The Pimsleur app helps you to learn wherever you are, whenever you want. Photo by: Pimsleur

Pimsleur is focused on teaching language skills through real conversation. It’s much more effective than matching words and images on a screen (like some other apps). It will actually teach you how to actually speak. Guaranteed!

But check out the App Store on your device and find one or a few that work for you. Then consider building them into your morning routine: learn Italian while you have your morning coffee or French while enjoying a croissant. 

3. Read the News in Your Target Language

Reading the news is a common habit for lots of people. With internet access, it’s as easy as ever to stay updated with the news in any language you want to learn. And you may even be able to get a unique perspective that you’re not used to. 

Google News is an app that helps you get updated on everything that is happening while improving your reading skills

The Google News app can help you with this; it gives you access to newspapers and reports worldwide.

Or, for country-specific news sites, try the following

4. What About a Little Culture?

Engaging with a country’s culture is a fun way to learn a language. 

If you like music, try making your playlist a little more international. Look for artists who sing in the language you want to learn, or check out the top songs in a particular region. You can listen to these new bands and artists when you’re in traffic, in the waiting room for your doctor’s appointment, at the gym, running around in the park, or wherever. It’s constant and fun learning.

Don’t forget to, whenever possible, look for the lyrics of the songs you are listening to so you can improve your vocabulary (and maybe even level up to a karaoke session).

Around the world in 80 songs is a great playlist to get you on track. Check out our guide to Latin music

You can also follow YouTube channels with content in the language you want to learn. A daily video about your favorite subject (fashion, sports, movies, etc.) can be a great step to improve your listening skills.

5. Make Your Netflix Subscription Worthwhile

Learning a new language through immersion doesn’t mean you have to pack your bags and move to Europe for three months. Watching movies and TV series is one of the best strategies for learning. 

Why? They offer cultural immersion with real, authentic dialogue similar to those you will find on the streets. In the Netflix catalog, there are thousands of options in many languages. 

Here you can find the top 10 Spanish TV series available on Netflix or binge-worthy Brazilian TV Series. Or try looking for a Japanese TV show.

If you prefer to watch your favorite movie with the subtitles set in the language you want to learn, here’s a great way to do that: this Chrome extension lets you watch shows with two subtitles on simultaneously so you can visually pair translations with dialogue. It’s a great way to gain new vocabulary. 

In addition to helping you learn, movies are a great way to increase your cultural knowledge, relieve stress, and give you something interesting to talk about with your friends at the bar. 

6. Take Advantage of Your Commute

Rather than waste your commute playing Candy Crush or thinking about your ex, why not use it as an opportunity to study? Maybe it’s five minutes or an hour; any time helps with learning a language, especially if it’s consistent.

Optimize your time by learning a language on your commute.
Photo by: Photo by Rathish Gandhi on Unsplash

If you are driving, you can enjoy listening to a podcast in your target language. Find one on TuneIn, or check out this article for 10 amazing podcasts to help you out in your journey.

If you don’t have to drive, try reading or writing. Search for articles, read books, write in your journal, or even chat with a native using a chat application. Your commute may become your most productive language practice time. 

7. Talk to Yourself.

Every family has that person who talks to themself. You could be that person. Let me explain.

When I was new to learning Portuguese, I often practiced basic conversations in the shower. I would play both sides of the conversation:

“Hello, could I please buy a bus ticket?”

“Yes, that will be 5 reais.”

“Can I pay by card?”

… and so on. It may feel a bit weird at first, but it’s a great way to practice speaking when you don’t have a partner and to identify when there is vocabulary that you are struggling with. 

A Brazilian friend who is learning English takes this a bit further and records herself. She habitually chose random subjects and talked about them alone for several minutes. As time goes by, she can listen to herself and can see how much she has improved.

Your smartphone probably has an application for voice recording. You can use it to make notes and record long monologues. It may be awkward initially, but I guarantee it will help improve your speaking skills.

8. Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

Do you journal? 

To keep a diary, you no longer need a padlocked notebook, as in the old days, just an app with a password. There are thousands of options, like Day One, available on IOs and Android, where you can record everything you want, with voice notes, videos, and images.

Writing a diary can work as a therapy: you can vent as much as you like and practice your writing skills simultaneously. Diaries also work as time travel; you can go back and reread what you wrote and see how things have changed (including how your language has developed).

Build Language Learning into Your Routine

Learning a language doesn’t have to be sitting down for an hour at the library and doing grammar exercises. In fact, you’ll have much more success if you simply make language practice a part of your day-to-day life. 

Practicing a little every day while you’re having your breakfast, on your way to work, or even in the shower will help you turn the corner in your language learning so that you see some real progress. 

Ready to get started? Go for it!

Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, what about learning a new language in 30 days? Try a FREE LESSON on Pimsleur and start talking!

3 Comments for "Get Fluent Quickly by Building Language Learning Into Your Routine"

  1. Great suggestions! For beginner level Japanese I highly recommend NHK News Web Easy:

    Reading Japanese has a pretty steep learning curve (obviously) so jumping into the deep end with a regular news paper can be a little much for beginners. This site rewrites current news stories in more simple language, has a built in glossary, and has an audio track you can listen to as you read along.

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