What Is Your Favorite Thing To Do?

Guitar playing croppedIf you could spend your time doing whatever you wanted, how would you spend it? What if doing that activity somehow also helped you learn a language?

Many of our favorite activities can be adjusted or can be incorporated into our schedules in such a way as to enhance language learning. This doesn’t mean they always should be–make sure to do your favorite things for their own sake, too!–but why not take advantage of the possibility?

When I think of combining my favorite activities with language-learning, I notice a few categories:

1. activities that can themselves provide input in a language (through listening, watching, or reading)

2. activities that can be done while receiving input in a language

3. activities that can inspire or motivate language learning

4. activities that can be a reward for language learning

5. activities that can be done with fellow language-learners

6. activities that can be done with others who aren’t even learning the same language


Here are some examples of each kind. See if you have similar ideas!


1. activities that can provide input in a language

I like to read. I especially like to read either in order to learn something about the world or in order to enter an alternate world. For the former, I like to read about fields in which I’m not trained, such as economics and local histories. For the latter, I like to read fantasy novels. Once I’ve reached a certain proficiency level, I can do this in another language, although I’ve found that, for language-learning, it can be especially helpful to read something I do already know about, such as classical history in Spanish or fantasy translated into French.

I like to listen to music. Every language has music. I can listen to it actively or while doing something else–exercising, washing dishes, going for a walk, playing iPad games,…

I like to watch foreign movies with my wife. Even if I wouldn’t understand everything without subtitles, this is a great chance to get used to the intonation and common words of a language.

I like to watch soccer games, highlights, and interviews. I can find these in a huge range of languages on YouTube and elsewhere.


Rowboats2. activities that can be done while receiving input in a language

-It’s tricky to watch foreign films while going for a walk, but audiobooks and music are great for listening while doing something else: chores, exercise, driving, hobbies that involve working with one’s hands,…


3. activities that can inspire or motivate language learning

I like to travel. Sometimes I spend time learning a language in order travel more joyfully and respectfully. Sometimes a trip itself inspires me to spend time on the language during and after the trip.

I want to read Borges and Cortázar in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t yet good enough to do so with great pleasure, but the idea of doing so is motivating.

I like to study Jujutsu. Doing so has helped me learn some Japanese and inspired me to learn more.


4. activities that can be a reward for language learning

Anything you like to do can be made a reward for spending time with a language. If you like to do yoga, tell yourself you’ll get to do it after reading your target language for twenty minutes. If you like to shop, listen to songs in your target language on the way to Main Street. A version of this is to do some language-consuming or -studying between repeated activities: read a short chapter in the target language between episodes of a show you’re binge-watching, or read a few sentences of an article between workout sets.


Roller Coaster cropped5. activities that can be done with fellow language-learners

Many language-enjoying activities can be done with a friend. Watch a movie in a language you’re both learning. Text in the target language. Go to a sporting event or an amusement park and chat in the target language. Even if you can’t get together, you can set goals together and celebrate progress together.


6. activities that can be done with others who aren’t even learning the same language

I’m reaching a bit here, but you can do things like watch subtitled movies and travel and go to ethnic restaurants and watch highlight reels even with people who aren’t interested in the language you’re learning. You can secretly give attention to the language or you can tell your companion(s) that you’re honored to be with them while doing something as important to you as learning the language. They might even become interested in learning with you.


Wishing you lots of chances to do your favorite things!


See also: “Do What You Feel Like,” “Your Language-Learning Happy Place,” “Limiting Your Language-Learning–On Purpose,” and “On the Go, In the Language

Posted in Learning and tagged , , , , , , , .


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.