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Dec 10, 2010

How to Learn Japanese in Five Minute Blocks

We all have such busy lives that it can be hard to imagine finding the time to do much of anything, let alone learn another language, but the truth is that we have a lot of untapped time that we could be filling with small, easy tasks that will move us forward in our language learning. The more flexible your schedule, the better, but even with a strict set of working hours you can still find moments throughout the day to get in some work on Japanese. So let's begin talking about various ways to find the time to learn Japanese.

The first method for making time to study Japanese is to simply add Japanese to whatever other tasks you have to do. I like to listen to music while working, so I listen to Japanese music. While this may seem to be a trivial amount of "studying" it is nevertheless keeping you close to Japanese - which is always good. Aside from music, finding Japanese translations for things you would otherwise do can do wonders for getting you back into learning. If you like to read, get a Japanese version of whatever book it is (if it's popular you can probably find translations). If you like video games, then find Japanese versions of those games. Start by turning your other hobbies into something related to Japanese, and then try to apply the same ideas to your work.

 Another method is to take breaks from other tasks and spend a few minutes studying Japanese. I like to set a timer and begin working on other things until it goes off, at which time I stop and add some new vocabulary sentences, do some reviews, or even just read a couple chapters of manga. Setting a thirty minute or one hour timer and then working on Japanese for just five minutes will be a major improvement over simply skipping Japanese completely. Many of us need these small breaks from our other tasks anyways, so just fill them with Japanese.

This last method is similar to the previous one, but is more suited to longer Japanese study sessions. Instead of long sessions with a short Japanese break, simply divide time evenly between Japanese and the other tasks. This time management style is more suited for when you have a larger block of open time with several things to do, but no necessary order. All you do is make a list of all the things you need to do, then work on each one for a set amount of time.

So, for example, you decide to work on each task for ten minutes. You set a ten minute timer, then get to work on whatever it is - washing dishes, folding laundry, researching for a paper, whatever - then after that ten minutes you stop. Take a break for about two minutes, then go to the next task for ten minutes. You can either alternate Japanese with the other tasks or just do a full cycle of all the tasks (with Japanese being one of them). It may seem like you can't get anything done in ten minutes, but you'll be quite surprised to find that many of those tasks you set out to do will be quickly finished and checked off the list - until only Japanese remains.

So as you can tell from each of these methods, simply finding small spaces of time in each day and filling them with Japanese will get you some great results and allow you keep in contact with the language. If you just keep working with Japanese whenever you can, you'll find that your abilities continually improve. So even if it's only two minutes, spend it in Japanese and realize just how much you can accomplish.

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  1. I listen to Japanese music all day every day. I actually don't like silence much, I have to have music in the background. It'd get boring hearing the same songs over and over again, regardless how much I like them, so I found a nice Japanese related radio station and listen to it a lot.

    Also, I'd like to add to your guide by recommending everyone make a account. Takes a few minutes to set up, but when you do you can easily do quick 5 minute sessions on a daily basis, and they're very good at making sure you remember the information.

  2. >Also, I'd like to add to your guide by recommending everyone make a account., huh? I'll have to look into that sometime, thanks.

  3. I don't know if you have heard of something called the Pomodoro technique but it fits what you are saying here pretty well and I often use it for my Japanese ^^

  4. >Pomodoro technique

    I remember seeing this a while back, but couldn't remember the name. I think I'll make a post about it. Thanks!