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How to Learn a Language in Just 30 Minutes a Day

How to Learn a Language in Just 30 Minutes a Day

Who says learning a language needs to be a full-time job? With the right strategy, scheduling, and tools, you’ll only need 30 minutes a day.

Unfortunately, most of us have fallen into the trap of relying on learning methods that are ineffective and require a significant amount of time upfront to see any results. This leads to a lack of momentum, motivation, and purpose, where the most logical action is to quit.

In fact, before we share with you how to learn a language by spending only 30 minutes a day, let’s share the most common mistakes language learners make.

The wrong methods of learning

The first and most common mistake is the choice of method one uses. This is the most deadly mistake, because it’s the first decision we must make when we’ve committed to learning a language, and most people don’t know the options available when they first get started.

What’s more dangerous is that once they’ve committed to a method, it’s harder to explore other options, and they often blame their lack of innate learning power, age, or convince themselves that learning a language isn’t for them.

What are some of these ineffective methods?

First off, any solution that doesn’t give you the real-life interaction of speaking the language with another human should be crossed off. We’re not saying these solutions are completely ineffective, but they should not be relied on as your main method of learning. Instead, they should be complementary to your main method. This includes free mobile apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, language schools, and audio tapes.

The best way to learn a language is the same way you’ll be using the language—from another human. This could be in the form of undergoing a language immersion program, going through a conversation exchange, or working with a private, professional teacher.

Being overly optimistic about results

The second common mistake is something many of us have faced—being too optimistic. This leads to unrealistic expectations that cannot be fulfilled, like learning a language in 30 days, or making a million dollars in the stock market

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It’s important to have clear goals we can visualize, but we must also be realistic and understand that the best things take time. Think about how you first learned English or your native language. Did it happen in one month?

The more realistic answer is that you will face what we call the training curve.

The-Training-Effect-Diagram

    This curve pattern can be represented for just about anything you want to learn and achive, no matter how talented you already are. We’ll all have our high moment and low moments. It’s important to make sure we understand this pattern versus having expectations that we’ll always be growing.

    A lack of persistency

    Most of us can achieve any goal we set for ourselves, as long as we stick with it long enough. So, why do we quit too early?

    We already talked about having overly high expectations. But the other main reason is explained by Simon Sinek, the bestselling author of Start With Why, as not having an inner purpose. Most of us are fascinated by the “what” and the “how-to” solutions of learning something, but never take the time to reflect why we’re trying to learn it in the first place.

    image

      For language learning, you could start by asking questions like:

      • What opportunities will you open yourself up to?
      • Who will you be able to connect with?
      • Who will you become as an individual?

      This doesn’t have to be limited to language learning, and taking even 5 minutes to carefully think about these questions and answer them will change the outcome of your inner motivation, drive, and purpose to push you forward when things inevitably become difficult.

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      Now, let’s talk about effective strategies for learning.

      Here’s the most effective 3 areas you can focus on to learn a language in less than 30 minutes a day.

      *Note: 30 minutes a day spent learning is equivalent to 210 minutes (3.5 hours) per week. 

      1. Learning and reviewing the most common words (10 minutes a day)

      If you’re starting out, there’s no better bang for your time than learning the most common words. Studies by linguists have shown that:

      Studying the 2000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 84% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 86.1% of vocabulary in fictional literature, and 92.7% of vocabulary in oral speech.

      What’s worth pointing out is that:

      Studying the 3000 most frequently used words will familiarize you with 88.2% of vocabulary in non-fiction, 89.6% of vocabulary in fiction, and 94.0% of vocabulary in oral speech.

      This means that, while the first 2,000 most common words helped familiarize you with 92.7% of the language, learning an additional 1,000 words helped you gain only 1.3% more of the language. Talk about a time waster!

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      breakdown-of-word-frequency

        Knowing that 2,000 should be our initial target of words to learn, spending only 10 minutes a day to learn and review 20 words will help us reach 2,000 words in just 100 days (about 3 months).

        Total time required: 10 minutes a day 

        2. Working with a private teacher online (three 30-minute sessions per week)

        Just understanding vocabulary isn’t going to help us speak fluently with a native speaker. The only way to achieve this level of fluency is to work with a private teacher who can work with you live and give you the immediate feedback you need to correct your mistakes.

        Luckily, we no longer have to commute or sign up for language schools that require a 6-hour daily commitment. By taking advantage of the technology and communication solutions we have available, we can work with a professional teacher in the comfort of our home, wherever we go, while spending only 30 minutes per session.

        Websites like Rype offer unlimited one-on-one sessions with a professional language teacher online, allowing you to learn on-the-go, anywhere, and anytime you want, even on the weekends and at night.

        rype

          By leveraging the on-the-go and on-demand solutions we have at our disposal, a lack of time should be out of the equation—especially when we can learn in our PJ’s!

          Total time required: (30 minutes per session) x (3 sessions per week) = 90 mins divided by 7 days = about 13 minutes a day

          3. Follow-up review and practice (15 minutes of review per session)

          If you want to see accelerated results, there’s no question that time invested learning outside of your private sessions will benefit you.

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          This could be homework assigned by your language teacher, Spanish classes to watch, articles to read, or anything to keep you immersed in between your sessions. For some of us, this might mean having 4 private sessions per week without the need to review, or working with an accountability partner to help each other practice the language.

          Either way, keep it short and sweet to make sure you’re digesting the materials you learned during the lesson.

          Total time required: (15 minutes per session) x (3 sessions per week) = 45 minutes divided by 7 days = about 7 minutes a day

          **Final total: 10 minutes a day (studying the most common words) + 13 minutes a day (private sessions) + 7 minutes a day (follow-up review)

          = 30 minutes a day to learn a language.

          That’s all there is to it! With the right solutions, strategy, and tools, you can take the shortcut approach without wasting years of time and hundreds of dollars on ineffective methods.

          In just 30 minutes a day, you can learn a language.

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          Last Updated on March 14, 2019

          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

          Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

          For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

          Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

          1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

          A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

          It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

          It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

          How it helps you:

          If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

          Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

          2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

          Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

          Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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          How it helps you:

          Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

          Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

          If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

          Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

          3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

          Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

          Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

          How it helps you:

          This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

          For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

          Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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          A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

          4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

          To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

          A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

          How it helps you:

          One word: hierarchy.

          All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

          In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

          If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

          5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

          Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

          Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

          How it helps you:

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          Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

          If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

          This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

          6. What do you like about working here?

          This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

          Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

          How it helps you:

          You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

          Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

          Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

          7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

          What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

          As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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          How it helps you:

          What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

          First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

          Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

          Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

          Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

          Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

          Making Your Interview Work for You

          Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

          Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

          More Resources About Job Interviews

          Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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