How to fit language training into a busy schedule

Posted by:
October 10, 2021
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‘How can I learn a language while working full time?’ is one of the questions that adult learners ask our language tutors the most. We get it: you are working long hours and fitting a language learning schedule into your busy life seems impossible, even when you decide to study precisely to advance your career.

Fortunately, our experts have been helping busy students and professionals like you for years and know what works and what doesn’t to learn a new language when you have a few minutes to dedicate to study each day. No matter whether you’re studying Spanish, French, or English, and whether you’re busy at work or with extracurricular and sports activities at school — we know how to help you optimise your study time.

We asked our tutors for their best tips to study languages on a busy schedule that work for both beginners and advanced students. Find them below.

Know your day to fit in language learning time

The best and fastest way to figure out how to fit language training into your busy life is to know every detail of your schedule. This will give you a realistic idea of how much time you can dedicate to your new language.

Consider your next few months — how will you be spending your time? Write down everything including sleep, work, meals, exercising and entertainment. Now you know exactly how much time you can dedicate to language learning and where to find it in your day.

Work out your learning schedule

Now that you have accurate information, you can plan your French study time or your Spanish vocab revision. 

Locking in regular study time during your week and writing it down in your calendar is likely to maximise your efforts and minimise time waste. By scheduling exactly when you’ll be studying and where, you’ll be able to make learning a priority, fit new commitments around study time, and avoid the anxiety caused by not knowing whether you’re doing enough.

Scheduling the content of your study time will help you keep track of your progress and make the best out of your sessions — ask your tutor to help for better results.

Incorporate languages into your daily routine

There are plenty of things you can already do in your target language during the day! Incorporating language learning into your existing routine and tasks will help you live in the language even though you’re at home and train your brain to consider Spanish, French, Japanese, etc part of your normal life. 

Here are some examples:

  • Make shower time fun time and listen to Spanish songs while you wash your locks
  • Listen to the morning news in French
  • Watch your favourite Netflix show in English with subtitles
  • Order your pizza in Italian or follow Italian recipe instructions at home
  • Make and read your shopping list in Portuguese

Take advantage of language learning technology

These days, we have a variety of tools for language learning that are specifically designed to help us improve our language skills on a busy schedule. Apps, websites, video games, and more can help us speed up our learning process with only a few minutes of work every day.

There are plenty of choices and different technology focuses on different areas — memorisation techniques, vocabulary, grammar, listening or writing skills, conversation and tasks, etc. Most of them can be done on the go on your smartphone, which is ideal for your commute or those dead times spent waiting in line.

The downside is that you’ll have to do some research and try a few tools before you find the right one for you. Pressed for time? Check out our guide to language apps.

Reconnect with your inner child in a new language

Children use discovery to learn about the world around them. Connect with your inner child and try to narrate the world around you in French, Spanish, English, or whatever target language you’re working on.

Gorgeous buildings, ducks in a pond, double-decker buses, colourful fish in the dentist’s waiting room — let the world surprise you and find the words to describe what you see and feel. It doesn’t matter if they’re not perfect!

Talk to yourself in your target language

In our own way, we all talk to ourselves. We use our inner voice to process what’s happening around us, memorise information, or remind ourselves of what task to do next and how. Try to express simple daily thoughts in a foreign language

By writing down a phone number or telling yourself that you need to do the washing next, you’ll be learning a great variety of words without wasting a minute of your day.


How much time do I need to dedicate to language learning every day?

Plenty of apps and websites out there will tell you that you only need 15 minutes a day to become fluent in Chinese. 

The truth is simple and predictable — the more time you can dedicate to language study the better, and if your schedule is tight, make the best of whatever time you have. Ideally, you’ll dedicate a few minutes to language exposure (music, media, conversation practice, reading, apps, etc) every day, but have one or two proper study sessions a week to practice, secure new knowledge, and make real progress. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to become fluent when you have less time to dedicate to study.

How do you structure language learning when you’re busy?

A solid, personalised structure is the most effective way to learn a new language. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Have a realistic idea of how much time you can dedicate to language training
  2. Know your language goals
  3. Figure out your learning style and what study activities you enjoy the best
  4. Lock in regular study and learning activity times
  5. Know how to track progress
  6. Build learning habits

Your language tutor will be able to help you with all of the above. Need help? Book a free assessment today.