Creating a Self-Study Schedule for Casual Studying
Making a schedule to study is very important to stay on task. keeping a regular study schedule for language learning is especially important. Lili Does Critical Languages teaches us how to create a schedule for studying casually!
First, I need to define what casual studying even means. Studying casually means that you are foregoing certain aspects of language study in order to maintain a slow and low commitment pace. For example, say you’re learning French casually. Instead of psycho crazy grammar schedules filled with practicing grammar and vocab over and over, and quizzing yourself every day until your brain turns to pulp, you opt for a simple audio lesson every day for 15 minutes after you come home from work or school. Easy right? Yes! That’s the goal. With casual studying, your schedule is freed up for other things. In addition, casual studying gives you the leisure to take the time to learn things deeply and thoroughly. Casual studying, however, implies that you are not studying so much for full fluency but for practical, everyday usage. So casual learners care a little less about learning the specifics about complicated grammar but instead want to learn how to use it in conversation by learning dialogues and repeating phrases. So how do you create a casual study schedule? Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
STUDY SCHEDULE AND LEARNING GOALS
If you decided to learn languages online, it doesn’t get much easier for you! While there are certainly difficult aspects of the language you’re learning, you can take all the time you need to get it right. I suggest finding audio lessons that are conversation-based and not grammar-based. What do I mean by that? I mean that you want lessons that provide a real conversation between native speakers (you do NOT want to hear native English speakers in your dialogue because that’s practically useless to you *cough* Rocket Language Japanese *cough*) and then they break down the conversation. This is the simplest way to learn a language in practice.
So what do grammar-based lessons look like? They provide lessons based on one or two grammar points and spend the whole time explaining those grammar points in English and only provide a few sentences as examples. That’s certainly useful sometimes, but you do not want your entire studies to be based on learning one grammar point to the next unless you’re studying for an exam (like TOPIK or HSK), and you especially don’t want to hear a bunch of English instead of conversation in your target language. Your lessons should be conversation based so you can begin conversing immediately.
If you are studying one language this is what your daily study checklist should be:
· 10-25 minutes: Daily Audio lesson
· 10 – 15 minutes: Review vocabulary and grammar points
· 5 – 10 minutes: Review dialogue and practice saying out loud
That’s it! Every day you spend less than an hour a day studying your language! About 25 – 45 minutes to be exact! In a week, that’s about 2 to 4 hours a week (assuming you don’t study on the weekend)! Of course, you can increase this time if you like. It’s entirely up to you!
Your weekly learning goals will vary depending on what program you are using to study, but you should aim to learn at least 25 new words every week and 7-10 grammar points. Quite easy coming from someone who learns 10 grammar points a day.
If you are taking two or more online language courses, just double or triple the time that you see above and that is how long you will be studying all of your languages altogether. Since you are studying your languages casually, I actually do not recommend studying more than one language per day. You may not have time in your schedule or it may be confusing. So I recommend studying one language per day. You can alternate days or even weeks if you like. Whatever works best for you and your learning needs!
You should aim to study 50 new words and 10 grammar points a week. Make sure to have a notebook for every language you are studying.
YOUR NOTEBOOK AND ORGANIZATION
The most important aspect of studying casually (or studying intensively too for that matter) is organization. You will often have large gaps of time between your studying so you will need to make sure your dedicated language notebook(s) is very organized, so you can easily pick up where you left off.
It is important that you write down everything you learn in your lessons so that you can review them on the go. Make sure to get a notebook that will fit in your purse or bag so you can easily pull it out and review should you be on a train or waiting at the doctor’s office for an appointment. You may also use an iPad or something similar if that’s more convenient for you. Evernote is an excellent app for notetaking. I like to use about three pages per lesson. The first page is just the list of new vocabulary words and phrases; the second page is the grammar points covered including explanations and details about the usage and example sentences. The third page consists only of a blank page for writing out new vocab words about 5 times each.
Also, make sure you date every page at the top so you can keep track of your learning. If you have any questions, make sure to stick them in your notes so you can look up the answer to them later on.