3 Language Learning Techniques that require 0 Willpower
Language learning requires sacrifice.
You’re sacrificing time, energy, and willpower.
This means language learning has to be budgeted for, within ALL the other things that demand your resources. (Work, other goals / hobbies, family)
Frankly, this sucks.
What if we could spend more time learning -
WITHOUT spending any extra time, energy, or willpower?
In this article, I’ll share 3 techniques to do just that.
These techniques are based on 2 things:
- The first two techniques are based on “habit hijacking”:
- This is when you slightly modify an existing habit to derive a new benefit from it. Since you’re leveraging an EXISTING habit, it requires no extra willpower, energy, or time.
- The last technique uses “the minimal habit” approach -
- Here, you are technically starting a new habit, but we’re making the initial commitment SO EASY, that building and following the habit are effortless.
The techniques: 3 ways learn languages WITHOUT using willpower (or time, or energy)
#1: Target language memes
If you’re a fan of scrolling Instagram for memes, this trick is for you!
Find meme accounts in your target language, follow a few of them - now every time you scroll Instagram, you will naturally see some content in your target language.
Even if you don’t fully understand the memes yet, even just the slow and constant exposure to the few words you know makes a big difference.
Over a week of memeing, this could add up to hundreds or thousands of target language sentences read or skimmed.
That’s a great deal for something that requires 0 effort!
BONUS TIP: To find meme accounts in your target language, Google the phrase “best meme accounts” - but do so in your TARGET language. For Spanish memes I searched “Mejores cuentas de memes”
Here are some of my favorite Spanish meme accounts:
#2: Mismatched subtitles
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
If you like to watch series or movies at home, this trick is for you!
Next time you’re watching something, use the normal English audio, but turn on the subtitles to your TARGET language.
In the case of Spanish, this means watching a movie with ENGLISH audio, but SPANISH subtitles.
Without even trying, your eyes will naturally skim the target language subtitles and a few cool things will happen:
- You will see words you already know, and you will willl naturally remember and reinforce their definition
- You will see words you don’t know, but will infer the definition.
- Imagine a movie about a giant shark where the word tiburón keeps showing up in the subtitles. Now imagine there is a scene where the main character loudly yells SHAAAARRRKKK, and the subtitles read tiburón!!!. Without even trying , somewhere in the back of your mind you are noticing a link between “shark” and “tiburón”.
If you watch 5 hours of Netflix a week, this can add up to thousands of target language sentences read or skimmed.
BONUS TIP: Sometimes this works with group viewing! If you are watching with a partner or friends, they often won’t mind if there are extra subtitles on the bottom of the screen they don’t understand. It’s worth asking!
#3: One word commitment
Photo by Anna Kumpan on Unsplash
If you live with someone who supports your language learning, this one is for you!
Choose ONE object in your house, commit to ONLY calling that the target language word.
For example, imagine calling a mug “taza”
From now on, when you are home you just never say mug. You always say taza.
This is ESPECIALLY powerful if someone you live with also commits to calling it that word.
This should be trivially easy for most, and is guaranteed to BURN the word into your mind.
Do that for a couple weeks, until it’s second nature - then choose a new object!
(The key thing here is that it should always feel easy. Doing more than one word at a time will feel like work)
Those are my 3 tips. Please try them out, and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback!