Are you struggling to balance your language learning time with everything else you do in a day?
What if I told you that you don’t have to stop doing these things to make time and opportunity to work on your 2nd language?
Part of living a healthy lifestyle, and maintaining your capacity to learn and focus your attention is to maintain some sort of physical activity. Many of us go to the gym, or go running every morning. Some of us are involved in some sort of sport or outdoor activity such as hiking or skiing.
These are activities that take up a lot of time, but you don’t have to stop doing them in order to learn a new language, either.
Here are a few things you can do to study languages while you work out. All you need is a smartphone or similar mobile device that you can carry on your person.
This one is probably the most obvious. Many – if not most – people who go to the gym regularly or do a lot of running do so with some sort of workout music. It keeps helps keep you motivated, in good spirits and the rhythms of the music can also help you to pace yourself.
So it isn’t a big stretch to then assume that we could listen to music in the language(s) we’re studying, right? If you’re going to be doing it anyway you may as well use it as a learning device.
Surrounding yourself with foreign music is not, contrary to the beliefs of some, a be all end all strategy for learning languages. It’s certainly not a primary method and if you’re planning on achieving German while jogging to Rammstein you’re going to be disappointed.
But any amount of exposure to a foreign language can only help you. It can help keep you interested in your project, and it’s not like it’s going to make it worse. It’s certainly the easiest thing you can do to make your work out sessions work for your language project as well.
Audio books are another really great option for those looking for something to listen to while exercising. They tend to be slightly more engaging than music because listeners are forced to pay closer attention lest the plot be lost.
Audible has an impressive selection of thousands of foreign language books in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Italian and the prices are really not too unreasonable.
You can actually get two free audio books from Audible if you sign up for their 30 day free trial. You can then access your audio book collection via the Audible app on your smartphone or tablet while you work out, drive to and from work or school, or while you do household chores.
The books and access to them via the app are yours to keep even should you decide not to continue into the paid Audible membership subscription, so you seriously have nothing to lose!
These days one of the most popular methods of self instruction is through mini language lessons in the form of podcasts. Many language podcasters host usually regular private radio shows on which they talk about their own language learning experiences or give lessons to other learners.
The majority of podcasts tend to be free, but there are some that require a fee, either one time or monthly, for access. Most major podcasts also usually keep
Using your smartphone you can take your favorite podcasts on the go whenever you’re in the car, working out, or hanging around the house. Devices running Apple’s iOS operating system now come with a built in podcast application that you may as well take advantage of.
Want to find some podcasts? I’ve compiled a list of some of the bigger names in the language niche for you here in my YouTube Channels and Podcast Directory. Check it out! I’m always updating it with new material, so keep checking back.
Pimsleur is probably my favorite audio course right now, but any will work as long as it comes in an MP3 or other electronic format that you can use on your mobile device.
You can read all about Pimsleur’s features here; in my review of the software.
Unfortunately the downside to the Pimsleur method, and most audio courses like it, is that they have a very highly emphasized speaking component. This is actually a great feature, and exists only as a downside due to the potential for difficulty speaking regularly during an intense workout.
If you go running every morning for half an hour, you can certainly try Pimsleur, but you may experience difficulties. You also run the risk of making people think you’re insane as you gibber awkwardly to yourself in the corner of the gym.
But who cares, right? Pimsleur is still a good choice for lighter exercise in which you have the capacity to breathe out the spaced vocabulary repetitions while you space your weight repetitions.
Recorded Skype Calls
If you’re using all the tools at your disposal you should be attempting to engage with native speakers or other learners in your new language as much as possible and Skype is possibly the best way to do this outside of in-person interaction.
So assuming you’re already using Skype, either with a professional teacher or tutor, or with an audio pen-pal as I like to call them, did you know that you can actually record your Skype conversations as media files to be reviewed later?
Skype doesn’t come with this feature built in, instead you have to look elsewhere for an audio recording program. There are many such applications, some of which are paid, some free, but the one I’d most strongly suggest is VODburner.
VODburner is compatible with both PC and Mac and is totally free to use.
The ability to record your Skype conversations for later review is especially useful if you’re taking structured lessons from a teacher or tutor. It makes it easy to recall, and repeat, everything they say during your lessons as many times as you like as well as track your own pronunciation and progress over time.
I’d highly recommend that every serious language learner for whom Skype is a regular tool check out VODburner or another, similar program and create a file to use as an audio log, regardless of whether you bother with exercise at all.
Why study while exercising?
This article from Medical Daily outlines how just 30 minutes of exercise can increase the plasticity of the brain. This will help increase a language learner’s capacity to obtain and retain new vocabulary, pay closer attention to audio lessons and improve language recall when it really matters.Death tends to have a negative impact on language learning and is to be avoided at all cost. Click To Tweet
I’m one of the worst people to take actual fitness tips from, so I can’t really tell you which exercises you should do. Lots of people run, running is good right? All I know is that it’s supposed to keep you healthy and protect you from not dying a horrible death prematurely. Death has a staggeringly negative impact on one’s language learning capabilities and is to be avoided at all costs.
Learning a language is a kind of exercise. Just as your body needs food and activity, your brain needs it just as much. Learning a language is a great way to promote brain health and increase memory – especially for those that can claim a few more years than others.
And most importantly because if you want to learn a language you need to start figuring out ways to incorporate language – an undeniably time-consuming activity – into your day’s existing temporal crunch. If you go to the gym, or you go running, or you go hiking, cycling, polar bear wrestling or anything else, you can implement language learning techniques along the way.
However if you simply aren’t into exercise, you really have no reason to not be taking the time everyone else spends sweating and enduring asthma attacks to buckle down and learn anyway.
Languages Around the Globe will always be free. However there are expenses with keeping a website up and running and devoting time and energy to provide you with more, high quality content. LATG is supported by Patreon. Click below to become a patron and earn some cool stuff for your generosity. We’re currently working to make the website advertisement free for your convenience!