As any language learning guru can tell you, the most important part of language learning is consistency.
The biggest enemy of consistency is procrastination.
Two of the worst ways you can procrastinate is by playing video games and spending time on social media.
So how do I beat my procrastination on language learning? By playing video games and using social media. Let me explain.
First, let me explain how I have learned languages. Like Luca Lampariello says, there is no “one way” to learn a language. You need to do several things, several methods, to learn a language. Attack the language from all angles. So when someone asks you what’s the secret and best way to learn a language the best, and most honest, answer is that there are several. There is no one way. You have to try (and fail) at several methods and then find the ones that work for you. For me, that has been Pimsleur.
Pimsleur is an audio only way of learning. Sure, they have some written options to read, but those are weak in my opinion. Actually, I feel they’re not needed. Pimsleur is my go to because it I like to learn like I did as a child; by repeating what I hear.
I do this over and over until it starts to stick. I try and do one, maybe two a day. Do I repeat lessons? If I feel I didn’t absorb the lesson in its entirety. Which means, yes, I listen to each unit more than once. Slowly but surely, I make my way up through the units.
But there’s a problem. I get bored. I need to do something with my hands. If I’m bored and fidgety, I don’t want to do the task. So I give my task–my stick–a carrot.
Before I explain what I do to turn the task from stick to carrot, I just want to emphasize that I am still not learning how to read and write the target language with Pimsleur.
How I Have Fun With Pimsleur
I have a problem. Well, actually, I have several. I have severe anxiety and I have hemophilia. The hemophilia has ruined my ability to walk and my anxiety makes it hard for me to be in a car or train. What does walking and being in a transport have to do with language learning? Well, since Pimsleur is an audio based way of learning, people usually do the units while running or driving, two things I am unable to do at this time of my life.
So what I started doing was playing mindless video games while doing my Pimsleur lessons. I cannot stress this enough, the game needs to be mindless. Like a fidget spinner. Something to keep your fingers and thumbs busy, your eyes focused while able to focus on listening and repeating the lessons.
My go to games are; for PC Euro Truck Simulator 2 and for PS4 Elite Dangerous. If I need to play on my phone, I just do 2048.
For those of you that are gamers, you know that Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Elite Dangerous are transport games. You pick up and drop off stuff. That’s it. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is with semitrucks, Elite Dangerous is in spaceships.
When I turn on these games I always pause my audio lessons when I’m in menus or making decisions. Again, I cannot stress enough that your main focus needs to be listening and repeating the audio files. Once I’m all setup and ready to go, I then begin my drive, either through Europe or Space, and do my lesson. Again, always pausing the audio if something on the screen needs my attention.
I can do three units of Pimselur, no problem, just by transporting fake stuff on a screen.
What if you’re not into transporting stuff? Other famous mindless games are Diablo III and Stardew Valley although I don’t like either. Just a taste preference I guess. A lot of people will play games they’ve mastered. Sports games like FIFA or FPS like Call of Duty. I’ve tried it but I find that I focus too much on the gameplay so I stick to my transport games.
What games are right for you? Well, it doesn’t need to be a game. If you’re an audiobook listener or podcast listener just substitue that time with Pimsleur. Boom. You’re rocking and rolling.
While this has been great to learn how to speak and understand a language (I also listen to podcasts in my target language at half speed but that comes later) I was still stuck on not knowing how to read or write in my target language.
How I’m Learning To Read And Write In French
Social media is bad. Just, horrible. It maybe has a few good things to it but for the most part, it’s just brain poison. And the worst platform is probably Twitter. So, as you might have guessed, I’m using Twitter to learn how to speak and write French.
First thing you need to do is, create a separate account from your personal Twitter account. You want there to be a defined space, especially for your target language. It deserves the respect of you not goofing off.
What’s amazing is, the Internet has made the world so small, it’s great!
Like most American men my passion and love are American sports. Before the Internet, how could I find stuff like that in my target language? Now, with Twitter, I follow nothing but French language accounts that cover American sports. There’s a wonderful community in Europe that love basketball, baseball and American football. These guys and gals wake up super early to watch games and then they tweet about them.
If you’re not familiar with Twitter, it’s a place where lonely people talk to themselves. I’m kidding but not really. It is a public journal that has interaction with it. You can tweet away all day about whatever’s on your mind and no one will care. Then, when you feel comfortable, you can start communicating with other accounts.
Again, my niche is American sports so it’s very focused. It’s a bunch of French people talking about the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Plus, Twitter has a Google translate button on every tweet on my iPhone. Sometimes, I tweet with no Google translate but most times I do. The more I tweet and read, the more I see that I am using the translation crutch less and less.
Now, I also buy bilingual audiobooks with PDFs attached to them in my target language, something I couldn’t do before. It snowballs.
You can learn a language by making it more fun. Just as people listen to music when they exercise or do chores, I play mindless games or read and right about sports… in my target language. I’m goofing off while learning a language. I’m not some genius who has come upon some secret. Just Google HABIT STACKING and you’ll find tons of articles and videos on this very subject. This is how I habit stack my language learning. I play mindless video games while I listen to Pimsleur or listen to podcasts in my L2 at a slower speed. Or I read and write in my target language while following my niche passion, sports.
What do you do to make your language learning more fun?