8 study hacks you can use when you’re too busy to learn a language

Are you too busy to learn a language? Do you always find it hard to make time to study?

Me too.

In this video I’m going to lift the lid on a typical day, and let you look over my shoulder as I study languages in all kinds of different places over the course of 24 hours.

There are eight “techniques” in the video. The point here is not to show you any groundbreaking new language learning techniques – in fact you’ll notice that all of these are pretty simple!

The point is to demonstrate just what’s possible if you use a variety of techniques and mediums.

If you’re busy (and who isn’t!), you probably find it hard to sit down and study for a whole hour in the evening.

Studying regularly throughout the day is the solution for this. Use the 5, 10 or 15-minute blocks that inevitably crop up during the course of a day to get a short “language fix”!

15 minutes might not sound like a lot, but they really start to add up over the course of a week, month and year. Also, many language learners find that studying regularly is more effective than studying in a single block, because your brain gets used to jumping back into gear at short notice!

How to learn a language when you’re too busy

Techniques and resources mentioned in this video:

1. Listening to music

2. Flashcard apps

3. Listening to dialogues

4. Self-talk

  • Only need yourself!

5. Instant messaging

6. Speaking sessions with a tutor or language partner

7. Foreign language TV!

8. Language videos

So, which of these ideas can you take and fit into your routine?

Please like this post on Facebook using the buttons around you, then leave me a comment below!

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  • Ethan

    I cracked up with number four – a great way to look like a complete idiot. I do this sometimes, too if I’m listening to a podcast or something in the street, and it is pretty funny to see the reaction on peoples’ faces.

    • Yeah… they kind of know that you’re doing something, just not sure exactly what! 🙂

  • Alisa

    Thank you for mentioning that you are working on a new video! (at the gathering a couple of days ago) I just went straight ahead to see what’s new – and – as always – best tips! Never used FluentU before – my life is transformed! 🙂

  • Lara

    Hi Olly, I’m Lara from HelloTalk. I sent you an email about a month ago. I’m happy and thrilled to see you talk about us in your video. We have put this on our 7k+ likes Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Hellotalk)

    I would like to ask if you have interest to write a independent review about HelloTalk? 🙂

    • Hi Lara – thanks for the share! There’s a mistake in the link, though, you need to remove the “)” at the end.

      • Lara

        Sorry for the bother. Thanks.

        • Just making sure everyone can find your page! 🙂

  • Great video! It’s really inspirational. Thank you for sharing this.
    Which of these ideas can I fit into my routine? I use most of these techniques, but I still have to try iTalki.

    • Thanks Jorge. No need to use all of them, of course, but it’s the inspiration to try that counts!

  • Dried Peanuts

    OT Olly do you find that any of your languages are absolutely “stronger” than the others? By which I mean they force themselves to the fore, and intrude on other languages? Obviously it’s hard to take into account learning history etc. When I started out, I found my school french from twenty years ago poking in all the time. Now that I have studied a few languages, I find that portuguese is obtrusive, and that hungarian also pops up at odd moments. Any thoughts?

    • Hey, no I don’t really find that. The most intrusive language for me is always the one that I’ve studied most recently.

  • DrD2

    I really like these ideas. One thing is that I was shocked at the Glossika prices. There are many, many others that are more affordable.

    • With materials I always look at the outcome they provide, rather than the contents. There are certainly more affordable alternatives to Glossika, but they almost certainly deliver different results. If you use it the right way, Glossika really works, and can transform your learning. (The proof of this is the number of serious language learners out there who turn to Glossika as their first-choice material at post-beginner stage.) I suppose beyond that it’s just a question of what that is worth to you.