Today, I ramble about how many hours a week to spend on learning a language.
The average adult language learner learns only about 2 hours a week. That is about right when I was casually, curiously, starting to poke at the Korean language. This is what I did for a long time, with the “Read and Speak Korean” book and 60 Tuttle Kid’s flashcards. Mostly 15 minutes a day, every day, but I made no progress. I would have to keep going back to re-review the same material and nothing seemed to stick.
Now, I am listening to the audio for “Read and Speak Korean” again. This is a book I have owned and at this point read cover to cover many times. It has coffee rings and bent pages and creased binding. It has been carried with me all over … library, coffee shop, train trip, waiting room, bus, etc. It is the simplest book I own. I have read it for 2 years. And you know what? There are still parts I have yet to master. I am terrified some day I will need to ask directions to the bathroom and be unable to understand the response.
There is some minimum level of consistent study one has to do to make progress. I forgot more than I retained. 2 hours a week is simply too little. I probably spent 100 hours trying to master 100 words. I would read about people who were memorizing 6 words a day, and I couldn’t be sure I had 1 new word a week being added to my usable vocabulary.
I’m starting to settle in to language learning a bit. Using Memrise and 50Languages for flashcards to supplement topics that are being covered in Korean Digital Academy lets me have to flexibility and variety I crave, while making some progress on REALLY knowing words.
Now the thing I have to face is how many hours a day I am willing to devote to “serious” study. Study that includes flashcards, audio listening, reading out loud, practice speaking, video watching, quizzes, and workbooks. Whatever that number is, it has to be more than I am doing now.
I now understand why people talk about studying a language intensively for 90 days. It is that push of focused energy. You are spending more time learning, less time forgetting, because you do it in intensive 4 hours a day consistent study. Get over that initial hump of learning basic grammar and vocabulary, and then other methods of absorbing such as reading news articles or doing mass sentence repetitions can take over when you have reach a level of basic comprehension. 2 hours a week won’t get me there.
I am intentionally NOT looking at what the scary people say for the number of hours it will take to learn Korean.
I don’t want to be someone who gives up language learning because I don’t make enough progress. I don’t want to spend 2 hours a week in what is essentially standing still instead of progress with the language.
So I start at first by just logging what I am doing for studying every day. I want to begin to know where I am spending my time. I know I still spend way too much time in activities that don’t really qualify as studying. I want to nurture my curiosity and flame my interest. I want to work towards being able to say “Yes, I study 2 hours a day, every day.”
How will I manage that? My learner is unruly. She/I don’t want to be committed to any kind of schedule.
Much to ponder. 2 hours a week is not enough. How many hours am I doing? How many hours do I want to be doing?