Habit #2: Language learning

Habits seem to work better if you can divide them in smaller chunks that can give you an instant sense of accomplishment without taking up too much time. One very ‘chunkable’ habit is language learning. We have a plethora of resources at our fingertips, so I won’t go into that here. Google yields all the best language learning blogs, podcasts, video’s and websites, most of which offer excellent free material. I’m not going to mention the name of my favorite one because that is not the point here. There are much better blog posts that do exactly that.

I have tried for some time to keep up practicing language with a website that reminded me every day with e-mails. This went well in the beginning but became cumbersome after a while because the stuff I was learning (example sentences illustrating grammar patterns step by step) didn’t have anything to do with what I needed in real life. So I figured the better way to make a language habit stick is to connect it some something you are already interested in. For example, if I see a tweet about Macron’s 26.000 make-up which of course instills into me an insatiable interest, I force myself to read about it in French. Takes ten minutes, a nice little daily practice. The same thing goes for news about Kim Jong-Un’s ICBMs or Barcelona’s youngest tragedy.

I also use apps to read sentences and short stories, never vocabulary lists. A simple rule of thumb is to keep the learning as natural as possible, just the way a child is exposed to her native language. It is vital to make the time you spend on your daily language habit short enough to keep it up for at least 6 months. Bonne chance.

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