Why is there no time? (To Learn a Language)

Is it harder to learn new languages the older you get? And I’m not talking about the theory that adults find languages harder to learn than children, or whether you can ever get rid of your accent past a certain age… but something seems to have changed since I turned 22.

Where the heck did my time go?

I mean, where on earth is there time to now do anything? I feel I’m at a life stage where I’m starting my career properly, I’m working 5 days a week in the media industry (yay!) meaning I work 9-5 or 5:30 Monday-Friday depending on the day. Including my job, these are the things I like to fit into my life

a) Exercise (ideally 3-4 gym sessions a week)

b) Running my meetup.com group

c) Attending my French meetup.com group on a regular basis

d) Seeing friends/family

e) Reading at least 1 novel a month for leisure

f) Being a proper ‘grown up’ and making a home cooked meal at least 6 times a week (which I at this stage get to share with my house mates) and keep a reasonably hygienic house by regularly vacumming, cleaning my bedroom, bathrooms/toilets, ironing and washing

g) Watching the never ending TV shows that everyone keeps raving about (my current obsession is HBO’s ‘Girls’, and I’m into Season 2)

With all of these things to fit in outside of my 9-5 work week, I’m amazed I manage to fit all of that in let alone my quest to keep improving my French on a regular basis or beginning to tackle and learn new languages.

I’m not taking French lessons any more, and I don’t feel I need to. I have managed to finish a 400 page French novel for adults over the last month, attend French conversation classes pretty regularly so I get to practice and improve the language I’ve already learnt.

However I do want to learn more foreign languages, and I started with a quest this year to learn Japanese. I started off making pretty good progress, I learnt the first two alphabets pretty well (hiragana and katakana), can say a few basic phrases, understand how the language works on a basic level and have subscribed to a range of free internet resources.

I even bought the ‘Genki’ textbook and besides the fact I think it’s fantastic, it is now gathering dust on my shelf and I’ve barely gotten past Chapter 2. I just don’t see how I’m supposed to start learning a language from scratch again with the idea I’ll just fit it into my spare time.

I subscribe to blogs, websites, Duolingo and think of trying a bunch of internet resources that people suggest to me, but I either don’t get around to it or don’t do it enough on a regular basis to get any real benefit from it.

I read blogs from other language learners and am jealous at the ones who seem to be learning 3+ languages at a time, and I’m starting to think a) how do they do it? and b) how do they afford it?

I’m not doing an undergraduate degree, so don’t have time to fill up an electives sequence with a language or two and a term of foreign language classes cost $300 per term, per language. Not necessarily that expensive, but not an expense I want to commit to either.

So is there anyone out there in my situation who has managed to learn a new foreign language? Essentially from scratch and independently? Any advice? Or do I need to either go back to an undergrad degree or just fork out money for a course so I’m practicing on a regular basis?


4 thoughts on “Why is there no time? (To Learn a Language)

  1. I’m the same with time. I missed the chance to learn a language at school and now I’m working full time I hardly have time to learn a language, starting to begin taking French seriously is just something I can daydream about. I guess it just depends on how organised we can be.

    I started to use the Duolingo app on my iphone when waiting for trains at London Bridge, so even if I don’t practice at home that day I get at least 10 minutes of French. But as I’m still a beginner I know that it won’t be enough and soon I’ll have to find a way of learning more properly in the little time I have.

    I feel your pain!

    • Yes, I feel I am in this constant ‘beginner’ stage with Japanese, and I don’t see how I can possibly move forward without some sort of formal lessons. I even suggested to my dad that he get me a term of Japanese lessons for Christmas… God, I am such a nerd! 😛

  2. I agree with you 100% on the problem of time. I undervalued the time I had as a student, and now life is one big scheduling nightmare, never having time for everything I would like to do… I don’t suppose it gets any better as we get older either!

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