This third episode of our “Learn a Language” will help you plan your time and set targets so that you can make more effective progress in your language-learning. There’s another pdf download for you this week.  The content on this post is restricted to members of the Radio Lingua Club. If you’re already a member then you can access this by logging into your Control Panel and then returning to this page.

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Episode 03 – There’s no time … like the present!


We’re all busy. Whether it’s through work or family commitments, or maintaining a tidy house, or simply keeping up with social commitments, it’s difficult to find enough time to get everything done that you either need or want to do in a day, a week, even a month. When it comes to fitting in some language-learning in our busy schedules, it sometimes seems that there’s just no time to fit it in – perhaps you have felt this way yourself. In this third instalment of our course, we’re going to be looking at time and trying to help you make the most of the time which is available to you, no matter how little of this precious commodity you may have.

You may remember back to week one when we talked about the fact that learning a language isn’t something you can do quickly. We’ve all seen the ads claiming to “get you fluent, fast” and there are countless language courses out there promising to teach you Welsh in a year, French in three months, Russian in a week, or Greek in five minutes. Of course we do have our One Minute Languages courses, but with these courses we’re not suggesting that you’re going to master the language in one minute! Regardless of the length of study claimed by a particular course, it’s all relative: it all depends entirely on what time you have available to you for learning.

I’d like you to sit back and think about this for a moment. In fact, I’ll give you twenty seconds just to give this some thought. How much time in an average week do you have available for language-learning?

So, what was your answer? How much time do you think you have available for language-learning in an average week? I’m curious as to how you calculated your time. Did you work it out in hour-long blocks? Or perhaps you’re used to listening to our language courses on the train or in the car on the way to work, so if you have a 20-minute commute, perhaps you calculated your total time based on journeys to work. Well, I think that we all need to think a bit more creatively about when we learn languages. The thing is, there are 101 different definitions of what language-learning actually involves, and I think it’s important to try to get into a mindset where you accept that your language-learning doesn’t need to happen when you’re sitting at your desk, or when you’re in the car. It can happen at any time, and in this episode and future episodes we’ll be looking at ways in which you can easily maximise your time and make better progress with your learning.

On the pdf handout below, I’ve provided a timetable for the week, and I’d like you to complete this. Even if you have a very irregular timetable, I’m sure it’s possible for you to identify a period of time every couple of days which you could spend on your language-learning, Think in terms of 1-hour blocks and half-hour blocks first, and add them to the timetable, based on your weekly commitments. Once you’ve done that I’d also like you to identify some different times in the week when you know you’d be able to spent either 15 minutes or just 5 minutes on your language. This may seem a little crazy, but those 5 minutes could be valuable review time within your weekly learning programme. Here are some situations which you may recognise:

  • Perhaps you take your children to swimming lessons or football practice – if you arrive 5 minutes early to collect them, you could be using that time for language-learning…
  • How long do you spend in the shower or bath? You can use this time fruitfully for your language-learning too! We’ll actually have a whole episode in the future about learning a language in the shower, but for the moment, why not think through what you’re doing today: tell yourself your plans for the day, just using the present tense, and that’s another 5 minutes used for language-learning!
  • Do you ever use the lift in your office block in the morning or in a department store when you’re shopping, and you could easily walk up the stairs instead? Choose the stairs, and practise your counting as you walk up each stair, or if you’re further on in your learning choose a particular verb you’re working on and conjugate it as you walk up each step. You can even plan ahead for this and choose today’s verb in advance – and you’ll be keeping fit at the same time!
  • It has to be said… when you’re in the bathroom! I’m sure you can even use this time usefully for your language-learning!

So, now that you’ve identified some longer and shorter sessions for your language-learning during the week, we can plan to use these sessions effectively. You know where you are in your learning so you know what to plan for these sessions. On the second handout I’ve provided this week I’ve included three spaces for your longer sessions, and seven spaces for your five-minute sessions. Based on what you’re working on at the moment, identify three topics or grammar points, or areas of vocabulary which you’d like to work on in these sessions, or if you’re listening to one of our courses then you can even just plan to listen to a particular lesson in a session.

In your 5- or 15-minute sessions you can focus on one small area, perhaps challenge yourself to look up three words in the dictionary related to a particular topic, or practise your pronunciation of a particular group of words or phrases from our lessons or from your course book. I would suggest that you add three short tasks to your list, leaving four spaces on the sheet.

As you complete your longer sessions, more short tasks will arise. You should add these to your list, using the four remaining spaces. The key thing here is that you now have a predefined list of tasks to complete if any five-minute opportunties arise. So the next time you have five minutes to spare, while waiting to collect your children from their football practice – or having a shower – you’ll know exactly what to do!

Instead of thinking “there’s no time…”, in this episode I’m asking you to convince yourself that in fact there’s no time like the present – if you’ve planned your learning as we’ve suggested in this episode then you’ll know exactly what to do whenever you find those spare five minutes!

In the next instalment of our course, we’ll be looking at one of the most important tools you need when learning a language: how to find the perfect dictionary. Until then, thanks for listening.



Right-click to download weekly timetable (blank)

Right-click to download audio (mp3)


    4 replies to "RLN Club – Learn a Language 03"

    • Tamra Daniels

      I can’t seem to get the page with the pdf to load. I get the following error:

      404 – Not Found

      The page you are looking for is not here.


    • radiolingua radiolingua

      Oops – sorry! The link was missing a section. I’ve rectified this and you should now be able to access it. My apologies!

    • Lisa Diguardi

      I listen to the CBF mp3 lessons at a time when I can fully concentrate and have the pdf in front of me, but after that I listen to it over and over while I am shopping or when I am doing tasks at work that don’t require a lot of concentration. Occasionally my mind will wander, but not for long and the repetitiveness helps me remember. I also got a 365 day calendar with a new French phrase every day and read from dual-language books at least once a week while on my lunch break.

    • carol daniels or @loveCBSpanish

      I have been walking around nearly all day if i can listening with my data card on my blackberry loaded with CBS and STS. I go back to the lessons and am amazed at what i pickup on the second or third listening. Its all making sense now! Pockets on ladies slacks reaally help a lot, and then the small black earbuds to not stand out so much in the office. Tomorrow, I meet with my Spanish conversation partner for the first time!!! Woo hoo! 🙂

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