I recently wrote about my new language routine in detail. It's a powerful routine (with a CRAZY early start) I've used to make fast progress in my language learning.
The most important part of the routine is something I call “core study time”.
This core study time involves 30-45 minutes of focused study. I do it first thing in the morning before starting my day.
After publishing this article, I received a barrage of questions, all asking the same thing: “What do you actually do during your core study time?”
Inspired by this, I've decided to write a series of blueprints for using your core study time to best effect.
Before we dive into the specific study routines themselves, we'll start by getting clear about what this core time is and why it's important.
What Is Core Study Time?
One of the most important skills in language learning is the ability to make steady, reliable progress over time.
This means knowing how to control and guide your progress in different aspects of a language, and actually doing the work required so you do improve.
This isn't easy. It requires attention and effort, but does get easier with experience.
Less experienced language learners typically don't know how to do this, and end up “binge learning” instead – jumping from one language resource to the next without any structure or plan in place.
Binge learning can be disastrous for motivation, leaving you despondent and frustrated, because you're not in control of your learning.
The antidote to binge learning, and the secret to making consistent progress in a foreign language, is to have a regular (“core”) time when you sit down and study in a focused way – ideally every day.
Making consistent progress in a language requires a regular time in your day when you can sit down and do some focused study.
Why Does Core Study Time Matter?
The point of having a core study time in your day is not to be prescriptive about how to learn a language.
However, when I see language learners frustrated with a lack of progress, it's not usually because they don't know what (or how) to study.
You're probably very creative and have plenty of interesting language resources to help you. If you're not seeing the progress you want, it's probably because you fail to consolidate what you learn.
- You grab 5 minutes at lunch time to “do something, quick!”
- You listen to audio without really knowing why
- You chat with your tutor without any plan of what you want to practise
- You daydream whilst watching foreign language movies
- You think about dinner whilst staring at the pages in your textbook
You try to fit language learning into your day whenever you can. You don't have a plan. (And if you do, you don't follow it!).
You keep yourself busy studying, without ever actually learning.
Filling your day with language activities can be a great thing to do. But in order to learn from it all, you need a period of focus, where you can sit quietly without any distractions, and focus on the task of studying the language.
This is why core study time exists.
[Tweet “To learn – to really learn – you need to be 100% engaged in the task of learning.”]
The point isn't what you do in your core study time. The point is that it's there for you to focus on the most important task at hand. (The most important task will change over time.)
Core study time is the time I devote to making sure I learn what I'm supposed to be learning.
This means applying myself 100%, with complete focus.
This is why I have my core study time while the rest of the world is sleeping, although you could just as easily do it at 1pm, 8pm or 2am! (Whatever works for you.)
There are many things you can focus on during this time, and I'll be describing them in detail in this series.
But what it comes down to is this: You simply can't leave it to chance that you will keep learning.
Without core study time in your schedule, you're probably only working to 50% of your ability, competing with the endless distractions of daily life.
To set aside core study time every day is to say: “This time a is a gift to myself. This is when I work to my full potential. This is an investment in myself and my future.”
What should you do in your core study time? I'm glad you asked…
- Core Study Sequences Part 1: Listening Comprehension
- Core Study Sequences Part 2: Learning Vocabulary
- Core Study Sequences Part 3: Lesson Preparation
- Core Study Sequences Part 4: Glossika Language Training
- Core Study Sequences Part 5: Studying Dialogues
- Core Study Sequences Part 6: Transcribing Audio
- Core Study Sequences Part 7: Reverse Translation
Do you have a core study time in your schedule? What time works best for you? What questions do you have about creating this time in your day? Let me know in the comments below!