“Do what you feel like” can be devastating moral advice, but for language-learning that doesn’t have an impending deadline, it’s a great way to maximize joy and success. Here’s what I mean:
This morning I felt like reading young adult fantasy fiction in French. Fortunately, I had sitting by my bed a copy of Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers from the library, so I read a chapter. I was able to do what I felt like while pursuing my language-learning goals.
Sometimes I feel like keeping up on Spanish pop music, but I didn’t this morning. Sometimes I feel like playing a mindless mobile game while listening to a Latin lecture, but I didn’t this morning. (I did last night, so I played Temple Run 2 while listening to a lecture by Terence Tunberg on the Humanist Jacobus Pontanus.)
The point is, if I hadn’t had that French copy of Harry Potter, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I felt like and probably would have either not bothered to do any language-indwelling this morning or forced myself distractedly to do something I didn’t feel like, which wouldn’t have been very effective.
(See also: What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do?)
In a way, then, the title of this post should be “Make sure you have access to a ton of resources so that, whatever language-indwelling activity you feel like doing, you can do it.” But I also really am encouraging you not to bother too much with language-learning activities you don’t feel like doing, because you probably won’t get much out of them.
I like to have on hand, or have easily accessible through the internet, an array of content that covers the following:
1. All the languages I’m keen on these days
2. Written, audio, and video content
3. A variety of genres–fiction of different kinds, news, humor, history, pop culture, comics, etc.
With these three axes well covered by content I have checked out from the library, found on Pinterest or Youtube, or otherwise assembled, I can be fairly sure that, whenever I have time to spend on language-learning, I can do just what I feel like. And since I don’t have an external deadline for any of my language learning, I don’t have to worry about not reading French or listening to Spanish for a few days. When I feel like it again, it’ll be there. If I never feel like it again, why would I make myself do it? (If you do have a deadline, you can still maximize your joy and success by making sure to have axes 2 and 3 covered.)
What language-learning activities do you often feel like doing, and how easily can you access them?