Here’s the truth: if you want to become fluent in a second language, 10 minutes of practice a day is going to take you a verrrrry long time (is it even possible?). However, once you get past that initial burst of motivation that comes with starting something new, it can get tough to keep up the progression.
Ten minutes a day is better than no minutes a day, and knowing that you have an easy daily goal can make it a lot easier to get started.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Watch a Youtube video
I’m a big fan of the Easy Languages series on Youtube. They cover a variety of languages, though Easy German came first. The premise is simple: approaching people on the street for on-the-spot interviews on various topics. Subtitles are displayed in English and in the original language. These videos are only a couple of minutes long each, so I’m sure you can manage a few in one sitting. This is a cool way to learn about lifestyle and culture from locals, in their own language.
Practice with some apps
Though I go back and forth between Duolingo and Memrise, I find Memrise to be the easier app to pick up for a few minutes of random practice. Both are free—whether you use the browser version or download the app. Memrise is based more on learning and practicing vocabulary, whereas Duolingo has more of a variety of activities and a course-like feel.
Both have a decent-sized selection of languages to learn, with more being added with time.
Do some international cooking
If you’ve got a basic level of vocabulary in a language, it shouldn’t be too hard to cook using a simple recipe in that language.
These shouldn’t be too tough to find. I found this blog with Colombian recipes written in Spanish with a quick Google search.
Record yourself and listen back
Practicing simple dialogues can be a very practical thing, since you can focus on real-life scenarios that may come up in your travels. This “At the Restaurant” dialogue in French is something you can practice for a few minutes and record yourself with. Listen back to the recording just to help it sink in a little better. This can also help you identify some details of pronunciation that you might need to be a little more conscious of.
Listen to a song while following along with the lyrics
Luckily people love to upload songs to Youtube with the lyrics, like this one that has the original Italian lyrics in the video, with the English translation in the description below:
Listen to podcasts
You might not find one that’s under 10 minutes, but you can listen to a few minutes at a time (if it’s really too much). Lots of language podcasts are free to listen, but offer bonuses with a paid subscription—like one of my favourites, Coffee Break Spanish. I don’t pay to subscribe, but I still feel like I’m being productive just listening to the free podcast as I walk back and forth to work.
Learn a joke
This is a fun way to practice vocabulary while also getting to know the humour of another culture a little better. Let’s be honest, it can be funny to see what other people find funny. Plus, telling lame jokes to someone in their own language has to be pretty endearing, come on.
Read a short article or blog
Maybe you won’t understand every word, but you might pick up the meaning from the context. It’s certainly not time wasted.
BBC is a decent place to start, but reading blogs related to your interests is the best way to stay engaged.
What are your quick-and-easy language learning tips?