Monday, June 1, 2015

Learning and Maintaining Languages When You Don't Have Time

Does anyone else love learning languages? Do you have goals to become fluent in at least one or more, but life's other priorities make it so that you can't devote time to lessons or learning vacations? For me, Spanish is the one I've had that goal of being fluent in forever. I lived in Miami… where my Spanish got worse for three years. I was able to get away with Spanglish and did not go deeper on grammar or writing it.

At the beginning of each year, I craft a set of goals. The top ten are the most critical to me, and the ones I map out strategies and tactics for. Numbers 11 through 20 are the backburner goals- ones I have chosen not to put resources into because I want to execute well on the priorities, but I work on them as I can- without compromising the core priorities. This year, seeing my ill mom as much as possible is a big one, and of course keeping my little girl safe and healthy. Little else will rise to that level of importance. And time is very limited between working, single parenting, and priority side projects like writing.

But I still have a strong desire to maintain and grow my Spanish! So I listen to Latin music a lot. While making dinner in the kitchen, dancing with my daughter for a few minutes. On the way to work. Music is my favorite way to incorporate other languages into life… I get to sing along and it's a no pressure thing. And it is a double benefit- listening to music daily is a great for mental health, a constant daily tactic to reduce stress and increase joy.

I tried audio lessons in the car during my commute a few years ago, and it just felt too packed- from get-ready routine to 'class' to work- there was not enough mental decompression time or fun. I practice speaking it whenever I can. I read the Spanish versions of articles in airplane magazines then compare my translation to the English versions, but this gets tiring after a few articles. (Again- need to include some rest and fun while in transit). What has worked for you to keep up with language learning even if it is not a top priority?

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