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Why practise a foreign language every day… and how to do it (well)?

If you are a regular reader of the 1to1PROGRESS blog, you know that we consider regularity to be one of the keys to success in learning a language. But why is practising a language every day so important? How can we stay motivated every day? What do we do when our learning routine no longer suits us? This is what we’re going to find out right now…

The benefits of learning your target language on a regular basis

As you have noticed, the human brain is not infallible. Who remembers all the mathematical formulas learned at school or the important dates learned in the history class? Not many people!

Why do we forget? Because our brains need to be regularly presented with information in order to retain it for a long time. It’s not every day that you have to calculate the area of a trapezium, for example, which is why the formula you knew on tip of your fingers now eludes you. It’s the same with foreign languages. We need to practise them as often as possible, even daily, to retain them for a long time.

In addition to retaining knowledge, learning a language regularly also helps you to master it more quickly. Let’s say you want to learn German. The Foreign Language Institute estimates that you need to study a language for approximately 750 hours to become fluent. You will complete the 750 hours more quickly if you practice the language for 30 minutes every day, rather than, say, 2 hours a week.

👉 Also read: Which languages are the easiest to learn?

Tips for practising a foreign language on a daily basis

Set up a learning routine

Practising a language every day takes a lot of willpower, unless you manage to make it an ingrained habit. A habit is something you do without really thinking about it. It doesn’t require much effort and our brains don’t see it as a strain.

By setting up a learning routine, you make it easier for your brain to see it as a normal daily activity (like brushing your teeth, for example).

There are many books on how to develop good habits. Use them as inspiration for your language learning routine. Here are some key steps:

  • identify the best time to start your routine;
  • find the trigger that will prompt your brain to get going;
  • remove the disruptive elements;
  • reward yourself!

«Habit: an art of acting without thinking about it and even better than thinking about it.»

Émile-Auguste Chartier (known as Alain) – Philosopher

⏩  To go further: 5 games to learn a language in a fun way

Focus on gamification

Gami-what!? Gamification is the art of learning in a fun and playful way. In French, the term used is ludification. It is the process of taking concepts usually used in video games and applying them to your learning.

To integrate this into your daily language practice, you can, for example, use an application like Chains.cc or Habitica. The former allows you to create chains each time you complete your routine. Adding as many links as possible becomes particularly addictive and you won’t want to break your chain!

With the second one, your daily tasks become real games with small rewards that motivate you.

Of course, these tools should not be an end in itself. They are simply an aid to progress on a daily basis. Breaking your learning chain should not become a source of stress, for example.

3 Tips for staying motivated when learning a language

1. Adapt your routine when necessary

Although your routine is well established, bear in mind that you may need to adapt it. This does not mean that you have failed – quite the opposite! It is better to adapt your routine so that it is consistent with your personal constraints than to continue at all costs with something that is no longer workable.

Let’s say you used to do 20 minutes of English every evening after work, but your office hours have changed. If that time slot is no longer feasible for you (lack of time, family commitments, etc.), change it! Instead, you can practice your English at work during your lunch break.

2. Vary the exercises and study materials

Routine doesn’t have to mean boring! To keep yourself motivated, remember to use a variety of study materials and vary the exercises. Monday can be devoted to grammar, Tuesday to listening comprehension, Wednesday to reading an article, etc.

💡 You may also be interested in this article: Getting bored when learning a language… It doesn’t have to be that way!

Don’t know which teaching resources to choose? Don’t worry, your 1to1PROGRESS trainer will prepare a selection adapted to your level and your needs.

3. Practise the language in real-life situations

What’s the point of learning a language every day if you can’t apply what you learn in real-life situations? To stay motivated, apply what you have learned in real life:

  • send an email to your Italian client in their language;
  • dare to answer your Russian supplier’s phone calls in Russian;
  • discuss subjects that interest you with your 1to1PROGRESS trainer.

In short: get started and notice the progress that you make by practising your target language daily!