How to Not Be Bored While Studying
All methods for learning a foreign language that actually work require at least some repetition.
What most people don’t know is that it’s possible to study anything, even something that requires a lot of repetition, and not be bored.
This skill, which we will call “strong concentration,” is by far the most important study skill you can learn. Once you know how to do this, all of your study will be much easier.
How to Stay Focused
Imagine that for the next sixty seconds you will be caring for the most charming little boy or girl in the entire world. If you have children, you know which one to pick. If you don’t have children, think of the most charming child you’ve ever met.
Your imaginary job (for the next sixty seconds) will be to teach this child a new phrase in your native language.
Here’s how it will go. You tell the little girl to repeat the phrase, then she smiles and says, “I’m hungry.”
Sixty seconds later you’ve answered questions about food (“not yet”), and the bathroom (she just went), and dogs (“no, that barking animal across the street is not a kitty”).
She probably didn’t say the phrase even once.
Learning to Concentrate Is Like Doing Sixty Seconds of Child Care
When you start to learn any new subject, your mind will wander just as fast as the attention of a small child would wander. You won’t be able to pay complete attention to anything you are trying to learn for more than a few seconds.
Most people can’t concentrate on learning anything for sixty seconds even if their life depended on it, so smile and be nice to yourself until you learn this important skill.
A Simple Way to Learn to Stay Focused
Imagine that you are using simple flash cards to study a language. Your job is to remain highly focused on what you are learning for just sixty seconds.
You see the first card, you say the answer, and you flip it over. Then you see the second card (it’s a city name where you plan to travel), and suddenly your mind reminds you that you still haven’t bought your airline tickets for this trip. Pretty soon, a minute has gone by and you have only done one question.
Then you realize that your mind was wandering and get mad at yourself for this and start flipping cards over again.
It doesn’t matter if you are turning flash cards over or studying with a really good online program: the time when your mind is worrying, or wandering, or planning your summer vacation, is wasted in terms of learning.
To learn quickly without boredom, you need to treat your mind with the same loving kindness that you would a small child that you loved.
When you realize that your mind has wandered to some wonderful resort in Mexico, don’t say, “Shame on you, naughty mind!” Just smile and pull your attention back to your next Spanish phrase.
Learn to Concentrate on Your Study for Just Sixty Seconds
Try to focus your attention strongly on the subject you are studying for just sixty seconds. Put a clock or a watch someplace where you can easily see it, and every time the minute changes, say out loud, “I can study intensely for sixty seconds.”
When your mind wanders during that sixty seconds, smile and gently turn your attention back to your study.
It’s amazing how difficult it is at first to study intensely for even one minute.
When you finally achieve one minute without your mind wandering, and this probably won’t happen until you have tried this for at least several sessions, ask yourself if you are bored.
When you can study for just one minute without your mind wandering even once during that minute, you simply need to repeat this procedure for thirty minutes and you will have completed a very effective study session and you won’t be bored!
This process is excellent. I have used similar techniques when trying to teach myself difficult chemistry and calculus concepts. Continuous practice of this study method absolutely guarantees success in learning. Thank you for affirming my thoughts!
Thank you for the recognition that what we are providing here at Language101.com is useful!
I did it for an hour straight yay!
Great job! Did you notice you were getting a little tired towards the 45 minute mark? Were you getting mentally distracted at the end? Studying focused for an hour is great, studying focused for 45 minutes and then being mentally drained for the last 15 is a sign that an hour is still too long. Just like any exercise its good to notice when the brain is getting tired and stop at the right place to make the session most effective.
Keep up the good work and you’re language learning goals will be achieved in a breeze!
Wow! It worked when I was reading physics! I finished in 30 minutes. Normally, I’d take longer because of lack of concentration and distractions. Does this work for homework as well or solving problems overall?
The skill of high concentration works for homework. It works for solving problems and almost everything else I can think of. You might also like to call it “Relaxed Concentration”.
Almost everything you do works better and is more fun when you learn to give it 100% of your attention.
Even repetitive or boring tasks like doing the dishes can become pleasant when you concentrate 100% on them.
hey hi i am rochak and i have a low concentration power so whenever i start studying my mind wonders here and there thinking about past or so….. thats why i am not able to study for long hours also i am bored while studuing and i think its mainly due low concentration power.
so will u please help me how to study for long hours concentrately.and while studying we take break for ten min what to do in that ten minutes
The best cure for a low attention span is to start growing it one moment at a time. If you can only pay attention to one thing for 5 minutes then pay attention for 5 minutes and allow that to be enough for now. Move on to whatever you want, try and pay attention to that for a little more than 5 minutes. When you come back to it, try paying attention for a little longer, maybe only 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Much like watering a tree your attention span needs care and time to grow. Eventually, with a little improvement every time, you will be able to focus for 30 minutes, an hour, or even longer without distraction or fatigue.
it’s a very good step…thanks…I’ll keep up this process…
Thanks for letting us know this helps!
It works to a good extent but then it’s hard to keep focus as there are so many things that distract me like computer games. Any tips on how to resist the temptation?
Surely! One has to simply develop discipline in their own lives. This can be as easy or challenging as you want to make it for yourself. Start with small goals and small rewards:
After 15 minutes of studying my new language I will then play a game for X amount of time.
I will study my new language before 11am or else I will drop what I am doing and study for 20 minutes and then continue on with what I was doing.
I will get a study partner and we will study together and we will be accountable to one another. (This method works great with a partner, family member or co-worker with similar language learning goals.) Call each other at a set time each day. Establish little rewards like meeting for lunch the next day – and if you fail you have to buy the other person’s meal.
Anything you can do that creates accountability and consequence in your life will surely help.
You can also just buy some plane tickets to a place that doesn’t speak your language. This is a VERY effective motivational tool. The video games will seem less desirable as you move closer to getting on the airplane and potentially not knowing how to get a meal or a bed when you land. ;)