A very important part of language learning is time management. Without properly managing your limited resources (time and interest) you may or may not stagnate and you may or may not get frustrated therefore throwing in the towel.

When it comes to time management, on  a scale of zero to five and five being the highest grade, I would comfortably score a one. I can go for five hours straight, learning a language. In the short run I learned a lot, in the long run I simply ran out of steam.

I did this when I was learning Russian in Spain at the age of 17. I would spend a few hours each day learning Russian while everyone around me spoke Spanish. After 2 weeks I was fed up of Russian however my Spanish had greatly improved.

The second time I used this ‘strategy’ was when I was 20. I spent four months learning Japanese in France at l’ Ecole de Langues de TENRI as well as going to class at AUP, the American University of Paris. I learned a lot of Japanese but then I burned out. My French in the meantime had greatly improved and improved even further when I started drama classes in a French theatre school.

The last time I used this strategy was at the age of 27 to learn Mandarin in Abuja, Nigeria. It was three months of intense learning at home while working at the ECOWAS Commission and then I burned out. This last episode taught me that:

  • I can learn any language
  • a routine is an essential part of my learning process
  • having specific daily goals are important
  • a journal to document tasks and progress is indispensable
  • I should only learn useful vocabulary
  • creativity makes learning easier
  • each language activity should be timed. By that I mean, if you decide to spend 30 minutes per day on learning characters, then do just that. Then spend two 15 minutes session reviewing what you have learned. My experience is telling me that I should invest in reviewing what I have learned regularly before absorbing more data

Google Chrome has an application called Task Timer. It looks like a basic stop watch however I will use it as a way of ensuring each activity gets proper attention.

Q. How do you go about managing your time when you are learning?