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How many hours a week should I spend learning a language?

Obviously, the more time you spend practising a new language point – by reading a simplified novel, listening to a podcast, doing a dictation, writing a text, doing grammar exercises, or watching a film/series – the better. But the reality is, that we all have busy lives and, in order to learn a language, you first need to carve out the time for it and stick to your schedule as much as possible.

I recommend assessing first if you’re a morning or evening person, if Saturday mornings are quieter than some evenings and allocating slots in the following weeks to practise each key skill – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – equally.

It’s better to start small and do, for example, two thirty-minute slots a week – and potentially do more as the weeks go by – than to decide to do three hours a week from the word go and give up after two weeks only, feeling like a failure.

Language learning takes time, effort, and determination, so pacing yourself is crucial. As is accepting the fact that there will be weeks during which you will do less, or nothing at all, because you’ve got too much work, you’re ill, or you need to take care of someone who’s ill. What matters is to not feel bad about it and to keep going.

When you are too busy or tired, but still want to practise, how about watching a movie or series shot in the language you're learning with English subtitles? The idea here, is to not drop the ball entirely, so that it takes less effort to go back into your normal language learning routine the following week.

And remember that you cannot make progress every single week. There will be weeks when it takes longer to remember a language point, when your motivation drops because, after all, you are not a robot. Being flexible and kind to yourself is as important as learning conjugations, sometimes more.

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