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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
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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.

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

          Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

          Warming up

          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

          Stay hydrated

          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

          Meditate

          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

          2. Focus on your goal

          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

          3. Convert negativity to positivity

          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

          4. Understand your content

          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

          5. Practice makes perfect

          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

          6. Be authentic

          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

          7. Post speech evaluation

          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

          Improve your next speech

          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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          • How did I do?
          • Are there any areas for improvement?
          • Did I sound or look stressed?
          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
          • Was I saying “um” too often?
          • How was the flow of the speech?

          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

          Reference

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