Skip This Common Activity and You’ll Learn Your Language Three Times Faster

There are only 24 hours in every day and if you decide to do something new with some of your time, you have do also decide what to stop doing.

Fortunately it’s easy to find time to learn a new language if you…

…simply quit watching TV news, listening to radio news, and reading newspapers and magazines.

Wow, that sounds like a radical suggestion, but it’s what I did and it really worked. Not only did I have time to study Russian, I also had a clearer mind that I could apply to my job, so I got more done and made more money.

But you are saying, “Won’t I be uninformed?” Well no not really. Here’s how it works. The news doesn’t tell you what to think, but it does an incredibly good job of telling you what to think about. In other words, the news sets your mental agenda. Usually this doesn’t help you live the kind of life you want to live.

Do you really need to know the latest murder of the day? If you didn’t do it, then it’s not your fault. You can’t possibly stop all the injustice in the world and it does you very little good to think about it every day. If you didn’t do it, then you aren’t responsible for it and why should you feel bad about it?

If you quit watching and listening to the news, you will also will miss out on the latest sex scandal of the day. If that bothers you, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Politicians and high political officials have been putting their… in places where they didn’t have the proper paperwork to put it for a very long time. It will keep happening in the future, and unless you are one of the people involved, you can’t do anything about it. Don’t worry about it.

If something is really important someone will call you up and let you know.

How can you study a foreign language effectively if the first thing you do is every morning is to swallow a daily dose of the problems of the world. You didn’t make those problems and you shouldn’t feel obliged to feel rotten over them. Do what you can to make your part of the world a better place and that’s enough.

If you still feel compelled to watch the news, then at least switch to watching or reading foreign language news. Watching foreign language TV and news won’t by itself be enough to let you learn the language (without additional study) but it is a lot of fun to start picking out words that you can understand and then noticing more of them as your vocabulary grows.

Try cutting out all news for a couple of weeks and see how much better you feel. Don’t watch TV news, listen to radio news, and quit reading all prepared news on the internet or in newspapers and magazines.

I think you will find the experiment exciting and refreshing. Not only will you have time to study a foreign language, but you will feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more productive in everything you do.

Last Updated – August 26, 2012

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    That’s interesting. I’m learning Farsi now and found I’ve lost a lot of time reading my favorite magazines like New Yorker, the Atlantic or Newsweek.

    English is my second language so reading isn’t totally useless because finely written English is different from daily spoken English. They sharpen my thoughts and polish my pen as well. My third language is Russian so I spend a lot of time watching Russian movies and listening to radio broadcasting.

    But I do miss browsing the magazines I love to read at Borders.

    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      You’re doing a lot of things right. I’m very impressed!

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    Angela V

    My daughter rarely watches any TV, especially not the news. She can’t stand to hear or watch bad or sad stuff. At first I was concerned about her not being informed. But she is constantly reading and learning new stuff, like you said.

    Right now she is trying to learn Italian by herself, just because she wants to, and is also teaching her new baby. I was amazed, especially after she did poorly learning spanish in high school. She was so unhappy with spanish, that she was excited to learn her college offered “sign language” instead. I don’t know what language program she’s using, but it’s on her iphone. It’s probably a free application, since they haven’t the funds to purchase a program.

    After reading your comments, I hate to admit I mistakenly thought my daughter did not have an aptitude to learn language, because it was so hard for her in high school. She has played an instrument since 3rd grade and reads sheet music, which you said was a good indicator for language learning. I would like to get her your Italian program for Christmas, if it is out then. I think I owe her some encouragement.

    In the meantime, I would like to learn some basic French for a first time traveler to Paris. We have less than a month. Would your program be worthwhile for us in that short of time? Yes, I was considering the “learn a language in 10 days” by Pimsleur”. They also have ads that lure you in for $9.95 & free shipping…but you have to agree to future shipments at an additional cost, of course.

    Besides being around my two girls learning Spanish in high school, I have only had one language (spanish) class at a junior college, when my kids were young. I still remember a lot of the words & some phrases, when I hear them. By the end of class, I was able to read & write some spanish but not understand it spoken, like you said. I was also to embarrassed to practice speaking spanish to anyone, like my teacher suggested. I hated the audio tape program we were supposed to translate, because it was so hard! The book learning was easy compared to that. What do you suggest?

    • Avatar

      Less than 30 days to learn French? 30-60 minutes a day for the next 20 days will be better practice than you’ll get anywhere else! You’ll at least be abel to land in the airport with SOME understanding of the language and its grammatical structuring. It’s software which is accessible from anywhere you can get Internet, including the Android phones, which means you can study at the hotel after a long day of site seeing.

      I highly recommend experiencing the 30 minute trial lesson at the front of any of the language pages (each page examples its own language)! I’m sure you will find that by the end of the lesson you feel like you can ask and respond to at least 2 questions that might come up in a casual meeting with a stranger in a foreign land and feel good about your communicating too!

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    What about singing? Singing songs in the target language is brilliant for diction and pronunciation. I sing all the time in other languages.

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      Nena –

      Singing is very important. It helps create a stronger understanding of rhythm and meter in a language. Knowing how to speak or sing in rhymes is an excellent way to practice strengthening the tongue and voice coordination with the mind. The more graceful you sing the more skillful the command of language you present to others. Singing is a great way to practice a new language.


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    Yes!! Exactely!!
    That is the best advice I have ever read on the whole internet!!!
    In a 24 hours day, look how much time you waste doing nothing?? In 2012 when I stopped working, I counted that time for my previous job: 6-8 hours sleeping (ok, we can’t do anything we need to sleep), 2 hours commuting, 1 hour cooking, 1 or 2 (sometimes much more) watching tv, wc, showing, drinking coffee,…. And so forth… At least 4-6 hours doing nothing or doing just 1 thing when you could do 2 things (for instance cooking and just listening a podcast, or learn just one phrase or sentance or anything else…).
    Yes we waste a lot of time every day.
    I decided to use all, or at least a large part of this time, for languages.
    I speak now fluently 6 languages, including my native French language + my father’s tongues (2 different languages) and I undersand quite well the 7th and 8th I am learning now.
    And I can yet find time to play video games on my new 3ds :-)) and read some blogs like this one !! Even if I work (for a living I mean).
    Yes modern times make you waste a lot of time….

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