Learn a language 10 minutes at a time.

597px-Audio-Technica_ATH-A500The year has just started and our New Year’s resolutions are still ringing in our ears. For those of you who put improving their language skills on the list, here are three things you can do even when you get extra busy.

  • Watch an episode from a TV series: Be it a TV series in your target language or the dubbed version of your favorite TV shows, this is a good way to learn the flow of spoken language. In my experience, comedies work the best because of their laid-back tone. They’re also quite short (around 20 minutes) and can be broken down into even shorter bits between commercials. The result? A fun, 5-7 minute video filled with new vocabulary, idioms and expressions, showcased in a more or less natural conversation flow (well, it’ll at least be more natural than what you’d find in the average text-book recordings). It’s also a great way to pick up on the melody of the language and on the different tones that are used.
  • Read an article: Pick a topic that interests you and keep a few articles handy for the next time you have 10 minutes to spare. When you come across unknown words, gloss over them and try to understand the main idea of the text. Then re-read the article 2 or 3 times over the next couple of days. You may be surprised by how much you are able to understand without using a dictionary.
  • Listen to new a song (until you learn it by heart): Music is a great memory aid. In addition to learning new vocabulary, listening to music and then singing along can help you improve your listening skills and pronunciation. The next time you have some spare time, pull out your headphones and listen to a catchy song in your target language. Concentrate on understanding the lyrics before you pull out the transcript, then listen to it as many times as it takes for you to memorize it.

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