As with losing weight or saving for retirement, the principles of how to learn a language are simple. You learn and practice with an ever-increasing difficulty until you become fluent. And, as with these other examples, the process is simple but not easy. It takes a whole of commitment and considerable time to achieve any of these goals. Actually, the similarities between these examples run deeper than can first seem, since the key to reaching any of them is continuous effort. In the long run, you will see more results with a little bit of purposeful practice every day than diving into your target language for a few intense hours a week.
Enthusiasm as the Enemy
When you first start learning a new language, it always seems so exciting and you can spend hours at a time pouring over new vocabulary and learning how to formulate sentences. The problem is that this beginners’ enthusiasm is quick to evaporate, leaving you with only the basics of your language skills to show for several weeks of intense work.
Naturally, it is normal to get excited about new activities and experiences but the issue is that after this initial enthusiasm is gone, you are not left with any positive habits to keep improving. It is at this point that many learners quit. If you want to really achieve fluency, you are better off funneling your efforts into creating long term habits than starting with the sprint to goals.
Creating a Learning Habit
Essentially, what it all boils down to is creating a positive habit of learning. This is really the only way to stick to your learning process and see great results. Again – it might be as simple as doing something for 10 minutes a day, but it certainly is not easy.
The painful truth is that you can only create habits over time and by shifting your focus to sticking to your goal. That is certainly easier to achieve if you take a small amount of time every day than hoping to fit all of the necessary work into a longer effort each week. The level of passion, motivation, and enthusiasm you need to spend just 10 minutes a day to language learning is a lot lower than the seemingly more difficult task of dedicating several hours at once. This means that you are much more likely to stick to the regime and keep improving.
The 7-Minute Language Workout
Much has been talked about the 7-minute workout and its supposed benefits. Somehow, it is supposed to offer you the same benefits as a full-fledged workout in just a fraction of the time. While such statements should always be taken with a grain of salt, it is, again, the idea of doing small improvements every day that helps you in creating a positive habit.
In the same vein, you could focus on creating a 7-minute language workout. There are certainly ways to improve your target language skills in a short amount of time. But what is even more important is the cognitive benefit of doing simply jumping in and starting with your learning process. This is a lot easier to do if you tell yourself that you will only spend a number of minutes on learning than several hours.
Trick Yourself into Learning
Without a doubt, you will see a lot more results if you up your game and spend several hours a day to learning your target language but – let’s be honest – how many of us have that time? After a long day at work, it seems a lot better to curl up and watch something pleasingly mind-numbing than spending time on your language skills. This is another part where promising to only spend a few minutes every day comes in handy.
As anyone who has ever faced a seemingly insurmountable task knows, the hardest part is getting started. Once you have already sunk five or ten minutes into your language learning, it is a lot easier to just keep going. So, the short amount you promised yourself you’d spend on learning can easily turn into a triple or quadruple of that – further increasing the benefits you reap.
Conclusion – Create a Positive Habit of Continuous Improvement
So, the real reason why it’s better to spend ten minutes every day on your target language, rather than a few hours a week, is that it makes it a lot easier to create a positive language learning habit. It’s easier to stick to the goal of daily spending a limited time than trying to muster the motivation to dive into your language learning all at once.
Spending a tiny amount of time every day on being a little bit better will help you more in the long run than just getting your language practice over in one go.