Nowadays, our ability to set time aside to focus on one thing at a time is becoming less and less practical. We are constantly distracted by work, friends, social media, etc. I have found that finding creative ways to combine interests is a great way to maximize your efficiency throughout the day in order to feel accomplished on all of your goals.
I should mention that I am learning how to speak Russian. My girlfriend is from Belarus and speaks Russian with her family. I started learning the language a little over a year ago and it’s definitely tough to pick up. I am taking a course in Russian and I set aside time each week to practice but it’s tough to practice consistently with everything else I have going on.
The question I continuously ask myself is… how on earth can I continuously digest material in Russian when I’m not around my computer and able to sit through a lesson in my course?
I decided to download a Russian application called “новости” or “news” to the 99.9% of people reading this who don’t speak Russian. I figured that I would be able to go on this each day and check out news articles written in Russian. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to understand the majority of words but it was still good reading practice for me.
This method definitely helped but as the weeks went by, I found myself going on the app less and less.
It’s nothing against the app, it is just that Russian news simply isn’t something that I was truly interested in enough to keep reading about.
One of the best things you can do to learn any new skill is to incorporate it in something you already enjoy doing…
This being said, one of my biggest hobbies throughout my whole life has been exercise. I have always been an active person and fitness is something I fit into my schedule each day without fail.
Recently I developed an interest in Crossfit. This is a sport that combines high-intensity interval training with olympic weightlifting. It’s perfect for me because now I have a sport that allows me to achieve a high-level of fitness as well as compete against others.
Why am I bringing this up in a post about language acquisition?
You have a valid point…
Like I said, I’m an avid exerciser, it’s part of my daily routine. It is also not something I will not stop doing anytime soon. Since I know that I am going to dedicate a good chunk of my week to working out I had to come up with a way to also get my language practice in.
The olympic weightlifting part of crossfit is something that was completely new to me and takes a lot of practice and dedication to become good at. To help myself study up on technique, I started following famous weightlifters on Instagram. They tend to upload videos that show them performing lifts with perfect form. About a year ago my buddy told me about this Russian weightlifter named Dmitry Klokov. I looked him up and realized he is someone who posts videos almost every day on Instagram of himself performing various lifts. Not only is this great for me so I can study his technique but I noticed that he also writes the captions for his videos in Russian!
Here is a post of him performing a squat. For this photo in particular he commented first in English, and then translated the same text into Russian!
Now how perfect is that? I can read the text he posts in Russian, and then if I don’t know one of the words, I have the translation right in front of me. Following Dmitry Klokov on IG not only helps me with my lifting form, but also gives me constant practice at reading Russian as spoken by a native speaker! I started researching other Russian weightlifters and found a couple more that post almost completely in Russian. This is awesome for me because it allows me to work on two passions simultaneously without even thinking about it!
My suggestion for anyone learning a new language is to look for native speakers in your area of interest on social media.
You can do this by searching their name in English obviously… but another great way to get practice is to look for accounts of native speakers in their native language.
To do this, simply install a new keyboard on your iPhone. Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard… choose your language then all you have to do is tap the globe key (see picture) on your iPhone to toggle between keyboards
From this point you can now start searching your favorite social media sites for accounts of native speakers in your new language!
Depending on your level of fluency as well as writing ability, it may be tough to search in the language you are learning, but I mean, you have to practice sometime right?? Try it for yourself and tell me how it goes!
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