How to Pick Up a Language in 30 Minutes a Day

Who says it has to be a full-time job to learn a language? You’ll only need 30 minutes per day with the right strategy, planning, and tools.

Unfortunately, the majority of us have fallen into the trap of depending on poor learning methods that take a large period of time to see any improvements. This leads to a lack of momentum, drive, and purpose, where the most reasonable action is to stop.

In fact, before we show you how to learn a language in 30 minutes a day, let’s go through some of the most typical blunders that language learners make.

The wrong methods of learning

The first and most typical blunder is choosing the wrong method. This is the most fatal error because it is the first decision we must make after committing to learning a language, and most individuals are unaware of the possibilities available when they first begin.

What’s more dangerous is that once they’ve committed to a method, it’s harder to explore other options, and they often blame their lack of innate learning power, age, or convince themselves that learning a language isn’t for them.

What are some of these ineffective methods?

First off, any solution that doesn’t give you the real-life interaction of speaking the language with another human should be crossed off. We’re not saying these solutions are completely ineffective, but they should not be relied on as your main method of learning.

Instead, they should be complementary to your main method. This includes free mobile apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, language schools, and audiotapes.

The greatest approach to learning a language is the same way you’ll be utilizing the language—from another human. This could include enrolling in a language immersion program, participating in a conversation exchange, or working with a private, professional tutor.

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Being overly optimistic about results

The second typical blunder is being overly optimistic, which many of us have made. This can lead to unrealistic expectations, such as learning a language in 30 days or making a million dollars in the stock market.

It’s important to have clear goals we can visualize, but we must also be realistic and understand that the best things take time. Consider how you learned English or your native language for the first time. Is it true that it all happened in a month?

The more realistic answer is that you will face what we call the training curve.

This curve design can be used to symbolize just about everything you wish to learn or achieve, regardless of your current level of ability.

We’ll all have our high moments and low moments. It’s important to make sure we understand this pattern versus having expectations that we’ll always be growing.

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A lack of persistency

Most of us are capable of achieving any goal we set for ourselves if we persevere long enough. So, why do we give up too soon?

We’ve already discussed the dangers of having unrealistic expectations. However, according to Simon Sinek, the popular author of Start With Why, the second major factor is a lack of inner purpose.

The majority of us are enthralled by the “what” and “how-to” aspects of learning, but we never stop to consider why we’re attempting to learn it in the first place.

You could begin by asking questions like these to help you learn a language:

  • What doors are you going to open for yourself?
  • With whom will you be able to make contact?
  • Who will you grow into as a person?

This doesn’t have to be confined to language acquisition; even 5 minutes spent carefully considering and answering these questions will impact the outcome of your inner desire, drive, and purpose to propel you forward when things become tough.

Let’s speak about successful learning tactics now.

Here are the top three areas to concentrate on if you want to learn a language in less than 30 minutes per day.

*Note that 30 minutes of studying per day equates to 210 minutes (3.5 hours) per week.

Related: Easy Self-Improvement Techniques That Will Transform Your Life

1. Learning and reviewing the most common words (10 minutes a day)

If you’re starting out, there’s no better bang for your time than learning the most common words. Studies by linguists have shown that:

Studying the 2000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 84% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 86.1% of vocabulary in fictional literature, and 92.7% of vocabulary in oral speech.

What’s worth pointing out is that:

Studying the 3000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 88.2% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 89.6% of vocabulary in fiction, and 94.0% of vocabulary in oral speech.

This means that whereas learning the first 2,000 most common words helped you learn 92.7 percent of the language, acquiring another 1,000 words only helped you learn 1.3 percent more.

Knowing that 2,000 words should be our initial goal, devoting only 10 minutes per day to learning and reviewing 20 words will bring us there in just 100 days (about 3 months).

Total time required: 10 minutes a day 

2. Working with a private teacher online (three 30-minute sessions per week)

Understanding vocabulary alone will not enable us to communicate smoothly with a native speaker. Working with a private teacher who can work with you live and provide you with the quick feedback you need to correct your mistakes is the only way to acquire this level of fluency.

Fortunately, we no longer have to commute or enroll in language programs that require a daily commitment of six hours.

We can work with a professional teacher in the comfort of our own homes, wherever we travel, for only 30 minutes per session by utilizing the technology and communication options that are accessible to us.

Lack of time should be eliminated by utilizing the on-the-go and on-demand options available to us—especially when we can learn in our pajamas!

Total time required: 30 minutes per class x 3 sessions per week = 90 minutes split by 7 days = around 13 minutes every day

Related: 10 Ways to Improve Yourself to Success in Life

3. Follow-up review and practice (15 minutes of review per session)

There’s no doubt that time spent learning outside of your individual sessions will assist you if you want to see faster improvements.

This might include language teacher-assigned homework, Spanish lessons to watch, articles to read, or anything else to keep you engrossed in between sessions.

For some of us, this may be having four private sessions per week without the need to review, or working with a partner to help each other practice the language.

In either case, keep it brief and sweet to ensure you’re remembering all you learned in class.

Total time: (15 minutes per session) x (3 sessions per week) = 45 minutes divided by 7 days = approximately 7 minutes every day

**Total time: 10 minutes each day (studying the most often used terms) + 13 minutes per day (private sessions) + 7 minutes per day (follow-up review).

It’s as simple as that! You can take the shortcut path without investing years of time and hundreds of dollars on unproductive methods if you have the correct solutions, strategy, and tools.

You can learn a language in just 30 minutes every day.

= Learn a language in 30 minutes every day.

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