Hello polyglots! I apologize for the lateness of this post!
As you know I posted about how to create a study schedule if you are studying a
language(s) intensively. Now I’m going to talk about how to study one language
or multiple languages casually.
First, I need to define what casual studying even means.
Studying casually means that you are foregoing certain aspects of language
study in order to maintain a slow and low commitment pace. For example, say
you’re learning French casually. Instead of psycho crazy grammar schedules
filled with practicing grammar and vocab over and over, and quizzing yourself
every day until your brain turns to pulp, you opt for a simple audio lesson
every day for 15 minutes after you come home from work or school. Easy right?
Yes! That’s the goal. With casual studying your schedule is freed up for other
things. In addition, casual studying gives you the leisure to take your time to
learn things deeply and thoroughly. Casual studying, however, implies that you
are not studying so much for full fluency but for practical, everyday usage. So
casual learners care a little less about learning the specifics about
complicated grammar but instead want to learn how to use it in conversation by
learning dialogues and repeating phrases. So how do you create a casual study
schedule? Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
STUDY SCHEDULE AND LEARNING GOALS
If you are casually studying one single language, it doesn’t
get much easier for you! While there are certainly difficult aspects of the
language you’re learning, you can take all the time you need to get it right. I
suggest finding audio lessons that are conversation based and not grammar
based. What do I mean by that? I mean that you want lessons that provide a real
conversation between native speakers (you do NOT want to hear native English
speakers in your dialogue because that’s practically useless to you *cough*
Rocket Language Japanese *cough*) and then they break down the conversation.
This is the simplest way to learn practical language. So what does grammar based
lessons look like? They provide lessons based on one or two grammar points and spend
the whole time explaining that grammar point in English and only provide a few
sentences as examples. That’s certainly useful sometimes, but you do not want
your entire studies to be based on learning one grammar point to the next,
unless you’re studying for an exam (like TOPIK or HSK), and you especially don’t
want to hear a bunch of English instead of conversation in your target
language. Your lessons should be conversation based so you can begin conversing
If you are studying one language this is what your daily
study checklist should be:
10-25 minutes: Daily Audio lesson
10 – 15 minutes: Review vocabulary and grammar
5 – 10 minutes: Review dialogue and practice
That’s it! Every day you spend less than an hour a day
studying your language! About 25 – 45 minutes to be exact! In a week, that’s
about 2 to 4 hours a week (assuming you don’t study on the weekend)! Of course,
you can increase this time if you like. It’s entirely up to you!
Your weekly learning goals will vary depending on what
program you are using to study, but you should aim to learn at least 25 new
words every week and 7-10 grammar points. Quite easy coming from someone who learns
10 grammar points a day.
If you are studying two or more languages just double or
triple the time that you see above and that is how long you will be studying all
of your languages all together. Since you are studying your languages casually,
I actually do not recommend studying more than one language per day. You may
not have time in your schedule or it may be confusing. So I recommend studying one language per
day. You can alternate days or even weeks if you like. Whatever works best for
you and your learning needs!
You should aim to study 50 new words and 10 grammar points a week. Make sure to have a notebook for every language you are
YOUR NOTEBOOK AND ORGANIZATION
The most important aspect about studying casually (or studying intensively too for that matter) is
organization. You will often have large gaps of time between your studying so
you will need to make sure your dedicated language note book(s) is very
organized, so you can easily pick up where you left off.
It is important that you write down everything you learn in
your lessons so that you can review them on the go. Make sure to get a notebook
that will fit in your purse or bag so you can easily pull it out and review
should you be on a train or waiting at the doctor’s office for an appointment.
You may also use an iPad or something similar if that’s more convenient for
you. Evernote is an excellent app for notetaking. I like to use about three
pages per lesson. The first page is just the list of new vocabulary words and phrases;
the second page is the grammar points covered including explanations and details
about usage, and example sentences. The third page consists only of a blank
page for writing out new vocab words about 5 times each.
Also make sure you date every page at the top so you can keep
track of your learning. If you have any questions, make sure to stick them in
your notes so you can look up the answer to it later on.
If you’re studying a European language, the hardest thing
you will encounter are conjugations. They will probably introduce them in your
audio lessons but make sure you study them on your own time so that you fully
understand them. Use online flashcards if you need to. I recommend either Study
Blue or Cram.
If you’re studying an Asian language, you need to decide if
learning to write is important to you at all. If you would prefer to just learn
to read and speak, then it will make studying that much easier. In every Asian
language there is a kind of romanji or transliterated text to help you read
words (Chinese uses pinyin since it has tones). You can use that to help you
learn to speak and pronounce things, but you should remove your dependence on
romanji/pinyin as soon as you can because it will cripple you in the long run.
If you do decide to learn to write, go SLOWLY. Try to learn
5 characters a day. If you’re learning Korean, you’ll learn the alphabet
quickly but Chinese and Japanese are another story. If you’re learning Chinese
and Japanese, start with radicals and go from there. The order should basically
be: radicals, numbers, basic words (dog, cat, big, small, man, woman, etc.),
then harder stuff. Just focus on speaking in the beginning.
It is very important for a casual learner to remain
consistent. You have to keep chugging along with your studies either until you
make progress. The biggest downside to casual studying is that progress is much
slower. So you’ll need to keep yourself motivated to do your lessons every day
even though you may not be able to see your progress at that time. Give it some more time
and some more practice and you’ll be speaking in no time!
I’m sorry this post was so long but I hope you enjoyed it!
Please feel free to ask questions and make suggestions for posts you want to
see and I’ll do my best to provide the best tips and advice that I can! Good