Would you like to become a more productive language learner? Below, you’ll find 12 things that ultra-productive language learners do differently. Hope some of these strategies will help you achieve your goals!
1. They get ready for tomorrow today
Productive language learners finish their learning sessions by preparing for their next one.
Procrastination can often be a result of not knowing where to start. That’s why preparing a topic you’re going to work on next time during your current learning session can be beneficial. Do it whilst you’re motivated and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate next time it’s time to pick up your language books.
How can you quickly come up with topics for the next session?
Look at your SMART goals. Where are you in relation to them? What else do you need to do to meet them? What is the next thing you need to do to move forward? Ask yourself these questions and your answers will give you ideas for where to go next.
Is there anything that you did today (during your language study session) that you struggled with? Perhaps a set of words that you’re not too familiar with, or a new grammar structure? These could be things that you can explore next time in more detail.
2. They eat frogs
Not really. This is just a metaphor for doing the things you least want to do first. Do you need to prepare a set of flashcards and you don’t really like cutting up paper? Is the fact that you don’t like cutting up paper holding you back from practising vocabulary? If so, do it first – eat the frog! It will only take you a couple of minutes after which you can get on with the things you really enjoy.
3. They know what their goals are
Not just their goals for each language learning session. What I mean is their big goals. Every little thing they do is linked to the big goals they can see clearly.
If you can’t see your big goals or don’t know what they are, you might be choosing things to learn at random. Do you really need to be learning vegetable names in Spanish? Yes, if your big goal is to work as a chef in Spain. If you’d rather become an interior designer, it’s perhaps not necessary for you to know that ‘eggplant’ is ‘berenjena’ in Spanish.
Here’s an example of a goal that I’ve set myself for Japanese:
Big goal: Communicate with Japanese people about my interests (for example: learning languages, blogging, reading), be able to ask them about their interests and understand their responses. This is something I want to achieve by the end of the month.
Smaller goals that will help me achieve my big goal: Learn vocabulary relating to learning languages, blogging and reading, including verbs and some adjectives (for example: interesting and boring, to talk about books). Be able to use the vocabulary in context. Learn to ask questions and find out what the possible responses might be. Listen to them to practise comprehension.
4. They don’t multitask
I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of singletasking before. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – singletasking. Multitasking is a thing of the past when it comes to working productively. Focus on the one thing that’s the most important right now – the one thing that will take your learning to the next level. Once you’re done, move on to the next one! Your brain will be grateful for that.
If you’re looking to improve your focus when learning a foreign language, I’ve got a post about it so make sure you check it out!
5. They use technology in a smart way
Productive language learners don’t fall for apps because they have a nice user interface. They choose wisely based on their needs and language learning goals.
6. They also go offline when they need to
Have you heard about the Pomodoro technique? It’s a simple time management technique that involves setting your timer, having a short but intensive learning session followed by a short break. The intensive session can then be repeated and followed by another break.
There are plugins and apps that you can use to block certain websites when you’re trying to learn while also using your device. The other option is to go offline completely and do some proper old-school technology-free learning.
7. They exercise and meditate
Many people find it beneficial to do some physical activity and relax before they tackle a mentally challenging task. If you’re not into running marathons, I recommend the 7-Minute Workout app, which can wake you up in the morning with some basic exercises. I also use Headspace for my 10-minute meditation sessions. Believe me – your brain expands so that you can take in more foreign language vocabulary! That didn’t sound very scientific, did it?
8. They take risk and make mistakes
How does that increase your productivity? If you take risk with speaking and make a grammar mistake that somebody corrects, you’re less likely to make the same mistake again. Risk taking when speaking also involves using words you’ve learned recently in a conversation. It saves you time later on because you don’t need to organise a separate revision session to practise them.
9. They take breaks
If you think you’re going to achieve great learning outcomes by doing a session of 10 hours straight of reading grammar rules, think twice. Breaks during your day, as well as occasional longer, several-day-long breaks can be very refreshing. Your brain needs time to process things. Get some beauty sleep and your language skills might be beautified as well.
10. They fit their learning around their lifestyle
You may have already seen my article about living the language and making the most of your mornings. Productive language learners don’t use ‘I have no time’ as an excuse. They find time where it may seem like there’s none – when getting a bus to work, working out or cooking.
11. They love themselves
Productive language learners don’t waste time crying over spilt milk. They make mistakes, forgive themselves and move on. They don’t beat themselves up about mispronouncing something or taking longer to put their message across. They love and respect themselves, and celebrate the amazing things they’re already capable of.
12. They use the Motivation Journal
The Motivation Journal helps ultra-productive language learners stay on track, plan ahead and evaluate their goals every week. Make sure you check it out!
What are your favourite productivity hacks? Share them in the comments below!