Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finding the time

"There are good and bad times to study, and people often fail to take advantage of the good ones.
Early in the morning: by rising 15 minutes earlier, you can read a page of Russian a day.
At lunchtime: you could practice Italian for 15 minutes rather than chatting with office-mates.
Before dinner: a session with your vocabulary cards may help pass the time, and no rule forbids learning a language with a martini in your hand; in fact, it may lower your inhibitions.
I knew a man who used his shaving time to learn Chinese. He posted a few Chinese characters on his mirror every morning and looked at them while shaving. It cost him a nick or two, but within a few months he had learned 500 Chinese characters solely while shaving."

Paul Pimsleur; Learn Languages

"Learn how to keep your flash cards handy. Whip them out and flash test yourself the instant you find yourself with the time. (The person you’re walking with stops to look at a shop window. You’ve read the menu, finished the newspaper, and the waiter hasn’t come yet. The clerk has to validate your credit card. There’s a line at the bank or at the ticket counter. The elevator seems to be stopping at all floors.) Learn how to draw those cards out and start flashing even if all you’ll have is five seconds. If the person you’re telephoning doesn’t answer until the fifth ring, he’s given you time to go through two or three entries. Learn to be quick. I’ve learned how to master a whole new Chinese character between the time I dial the last digit and the time my party says hello."

"You can learn a language in twelve months using only those moments you didn’t realise you had. Moments we instinctively bid goodbyes to include those spent waiting for and riding in elevators, waiting for the person you’re dialing to answer, waiting while he puts you on hold, waiting for a long outgoing message from someone’s answering machine to reach its conclusion. There are those moments when you’re helplessly trapped – when someone who’s too good a friend to hang up on delivers an unending narrative requiring no verbal participation on your part beyond an occasional grunt, groan, “dear me,” “gee whiz,” or other appropriate interjection to let him know you’re still there. It’s usually safe to divert some of your attention from your friend to your flash cards.
What do you normally do when you’re waiting in line at the bank, the post office, the airline counter, the bus or train station, or the supermarket checkout counter?
What do you do while you brush your teeth? You could be listening to a language cassette. What plans have you made for the time you’re going to spend waiting behind your steering wheel at the gas pump? Or waiting for the rinse cycle? Waiting for the school bus?
You get the point. An honest, thorough scrutiny of your normal week will yield dozens, even hundreds, of minutes that can be put to work learning your target language. And don’t forget, a scrap of time need be no longer than five seconds to advance you closer to your goal.
Arrange your life so you will never be caught without something to study in your target language. If you carry a briefcase or a pocketbook, your grammar book or newspaper, even your dictionary, can be your companion. Phrase books are usually so thin they easily fit into a coat pocket. There’s nothing holy about your foreign language newspaper. Cut off a page and fold it up and carry it with you, along with your highlighter.
Certainly we can all agree there’s no excuse ever to get caught without flash cards. The instant you get stymied – in line at the cash machine, waiting for a store clerk, etc. – pull out your deck of flash cards and get to work.
When you’re walking through town or through the park, jogging, riding in a bus or train too crowded for reading, or driving or riding in a car at night, obviously you can’t play with flash cards. These are, however, also hidden moments that offer exquisite opportunities for foreign language infusion. (Use that time to listening cassettes.)

- Barry Farber; How to Learn Any Language

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