Have you ever thought about all the things you’d learn if you could be bothered? Extreme-level sudoku? Crocheting? Mexican Spanish? That’d be the life. But the issue you’ve got is that habits are hard to stick to, and there are so many potential new skills and SO little time.
And maybe you don’t want to admit it, but you’re kiiiind of lazy. Obviously not a full-blown slob, but like, try-and-grab-the-TV-remote-with-your-feet-because-you-can’t-be-bothered-to-reach-with-your-hands lazy. Don’t stress though! This is where we come in - we’re the mate that walks through the door and hands the TV remote to you.
We know that language learning is hard, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you make language learning a habit. Even better, this is the Lazy Learner’s Edition, so there’s just 7 short points to help you learn new habits. If you’re so inclined, that’s one point to read for each day of the week. You could even print it out and stick it on your wall (who are we kidding, copy and paste it into your notes app) so you can keep yourself accountable whenever you need to.
This quick exercise is so easy that you can do it lying down. Plus, it’s a great first step to making learning a habit. Grab your phone and pull up your notes app. Now, off the top of your head, make a list of any problems or ‘blockers’ that you might face when it comes to making language learning a habit. For example, they might be ‘making time to learn’ or ‘crap internet connection’ or ‘too busy watching Hell's Kitchen reruns’ (just us? 👀).
Whatever the blockers are, now start thinking about ways around them. For example, you might be flat out during the day, but once the kids are in bed and dinner is cooked, you could set a reminder to take ten minutes to practice your new language that day. Gordon Ramsey will still be there after. You could also download some learning resources to use offline if you know the connection is going to be an issue.
By tackling any problems that might arise right at the beginning, you’re far more likely to succeed in learning and make it a habit that you commit to long term!
You’re probably thinking “Hang on, you said this would work for lazy learners! Why would I want to practice daily?!” Well, without wishing to sound like Captain Obvious, when you’re learning a new language, you want to make it a habit as quickly as possible so you can succeed in learning new words and phrases. To do this, you need to practice. *shock*
If you’re a pen-and-paper type of person, write a learning reminder on your calendar or your to-do list, so that when you tick it off, you’ll feel super accomplished (yay!) The key here is to treat language learning like an urgent appointment you can’t miss or reschedule. That way, you’re more likely to stick to learning and find success through practice. Good news, Lazy Learners: It doesn’t have to be much, either! You can schedule five minutes a day if that’s all you’ve got. Memrise actually has a handy feature that lets you set daily goals and learning reminders to keep you motivated and on-track.
GOALS = SUCCESS. GET UP AND GET THAT BREAD, BRO 💰… Or something. If you’re a self-confessed Lazy Learner, you might not automatically think that ‘goal setting’ is your thing. But learning a new language doesn’t have to be ‘all about the grind’ or even have some morally superior reason attached to it. Goal setting is really important for making language learning a habit, as it gives you something to work towards. Plus, we’re giving you FULL permission to be as selfish as you like when it comes to setting your goals.
Maybe you want to go on holiday and not sound like a bumbling tourist. You might just want to be able to watch a Netflix series and not have to look at the screen ALL the time to see the subtitles. Maybe you’ve met a special someone and actually want to impress them a little? (Let’s face it, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” doesn’t really cut it anymore)
A quick heads up though: Specifics are your friend here. Including a time frame in your goals will make it way easier to plan how to achieve them with small, manageable steps. Try something like “Learn 100 words in Spanish by my Summer holiday” for example.
Leading on perfectly from the point above: Taking part in a “daily challenge” is a great option to go for when it comes to making learning a habit. There are loads of learning challenges you can choose from, and they can come with a bunch of benefits:
Take fitness challenges as an example. They usually take a short amount of time out of your day, and once they’re done, you can smugly sit there, all proud of yourself, and feel motivated to complete tomorrow’s challenge. Our 28-day Street Smart Challenge goes by the exact same principle. Head onto memrise.com every day, spend some time learning and prizes could be yours.
Not like that - but if you want to run away to Mexico and find a new partner, be our guest, we love love. We mean you need to find stuff you’re engaged in and enjoy. The key to learning successfully is to not ignore what you’re interested in in your native language! Whether it’s baking, Star Trek, powerlifting or bullet journaling, if you enjoy the topic, put your ear to the ground and seek it out in your new language.
It’s way more likely that you’ll stay engaged in a topic that you’re already familiar with (and absolutely smash your new language as a result). We beg you, don’t force yourself to find an online magazine about the Spanish economy if you’re not interested in economics anyway. You’ll probably end up face-planting the floor out of boredom and then not being able to learn due to injury. No one wants that.
NEWSFLASH: LANGUAGE LEARNING HAS NOW MADE IT TO THE 21ST CENTURY! Gone are the days of old, out of date textbooks, monotonous listening tapes and language lessons that bored you to literal tears. You’ve got the world at your fingertips! Head onto Instagram or Twitter and follow some active accounts in your target language. Forming a learning habit is way easier if you keep (semi) up to date with all the goings on in the world - you’ll feel a lot more in the loop.
As a Lazy Learner, you might think your only option is slaving away for hours, poring over old novels and hoarding vocab like a linguistic Smaug. We’re here to tell you NO. This kind of learning is so counterintuitive to smashing your language goals. This type of learning won’t help you form a habit because you won’t want to practice, because, guess what? You’re bored by it. Learning needs to be relevant and enjoyable, because when something’s fun, it makes you more likely to make it a habit! Plus, you learn better and actually retain information. Woohoo!
Key takeaway: Ditch the textbooks and use an app that actually includes relevant words and phrases.
Here’s another tip to make learning a habit that’s SO easy, you can do it lying down. We are trying to cater to the Lazy Learner here after all. Head onto Google (other search engines are also available) and type in the language you’re learning, plus ‘podcast’ plus the topic you’re interested in - keep it engaging, remember! Now choose a podcast you like the look of, pop the headphones in and listen away.
If you end up zoning out to podcasts, try something a bit shorter and snappier. We created over 30,000 ‘Learn with Locals’ videos to help you get used to the sound of a new language, and learn words that real people actually use. Now, we’re not all lucky enough to be jetting off abroad like Instagram influencers, so these bite-sized videos are crafted to recreate the experience you get when you’re living abroad (in a super COVID-safe way, obvs).
BOOM! You smashed it. You got through a whole blog post 👏 See? Not such a Lazy Learner after all! Use these SUPER easy tips to help make learning a habit, and before you know it it’ll slip into your daily life, easier than you can say “Now, where’s that TV remote…?”