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7 ways to minimize distractions when learning a new language

Distractions are a natural part of life, and they can happen at any time. You might be studying a new language such as German and then suddenly get distracted by an article about politics, or you might be trying to memorize German vocabulary words but end up looking up information about your favourite sports team instead. In these situations, it's easy for your focus to stray from what you're supposed to be doing and if this happens consistently throughout the day, it can slow down your German learning progress.

So, how do you remove distractions when learning a new language? Let’s take a look at 7 ways to help minimize distractions so you can stay focused during your German studies!



1. Eliminating opportunities to use your native language

This is one of the most important tips when it comes to learning a new language such as German as the best way to quickly grasp a new language is by immersing yourself in it. Whether you’re a beginner or a little advanced in your German learning, try your best to limit your use of your native tongue when talking to family and friends. It may seem a little tricky or unusual at first but try little by little to incorporate German words and phrases into your daily conversations. If you find yourself wanting to ask them questions about their day or how they slept last night in English, remind yourself that you should try and translate what you want to say to them in German to help you become used to speaking German more often. This can be a helpful tip to minimize distractions when learning German because you correct yourself into thinking and speaking in German more often so that even if you do get distracted you can easily get back into the mindset of speaking German.

Practice using German whenever you can even when you aren’t doing your formal or informal German studies keep on trying to speak in German. A great way to do this is by listening and watching German TV shows as much as possible without subtitles, so that the more you absorb and pick up on new German words, the more you can add to your daily dialogue. Another handy way to help encourage you to eliminate using your native tongue is by downloading German language learning apps such as Duolingo or Memrise which have been designed specifically for learning languages! Not only is it a fun way to learn German by playing fun games but you also get the benefits of;

Instant feedback when something isn't quite right.

  • Real-time progress reports

  • Personalized recommendations based upon previous experience taking similar lessons

  • Built-in spaced repetition techniques which will help you remember German more efficiently later down the line


2. Use technology to block distractions.

The easiest way to keep distractions at bay is to use technology. There are a number of programs and browser extensions that you can use, so it's best to find the one that works best for you.

  • Use website blockers: Websites like StayFocusd allow you to set the amount of time that each site is blocked, for example, 30 minutes. That way, if someone sends you an interesting article that breaks your concentration while learning German, you'll be able to read it later without distraction.

  • Use phone apps: Similarly, there are many apps available on Android and iOS devices that help block distractions from social media sites or news articles. If all else fails, simply turn off notifications by putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” from these specific apps when learning German.


3. Remove distractions from your environment

There's a reason why you feel more productive at work when you change up your study environment. When you change the physical elements of your surroundings, it helps to form a new association with them and this can be especially effective when you're trying to learn something that's new such as German. For example: try studying in a new room or with some other people who are also learning German. You could pick out an alternate place to sit such as on the floor instead of at your desk. You can also try studying in different lighting e.g. a lamp versus overhead lights or in different temperatures like a cold room versus a warm room.

It’s best to remove all distractions from your German learning environment. You can do this by;

  • Turning off your phone and closing all other windows, especially if you are studying in a public place like a library or coffee shop.

  • Make sure you are in a quiet place, or at least away from noise sources like a TV or radio. If this isn't possible, try to turn up the volume so the sounds are just barely audible or put on headphones.

Listening to music can help you concentrate more and focus on your task at hand. It's like having background noise that helps block out distracting sounds. It’s best to listen to white noise so that your brain isn’t distracted by the sounds of music when learning German. White noise with headphones or earbuds is the best combination to drown out surrounding noises that could distract you from learning German effectively. Changing your study time to avoid the peak times of distraction is another way to help you focus on your German studies. The peak times of distraction are the middle of the day, particularly after lunch and before dinner. This is when people get tired and sluggish, so you may find yourself struggling to stay focused when trying to learn German. So, to avoid these distractions, try changing your study time to earlier in the morning or later at night when people are more focused and alert. This will make it easier for you to focus on learning German without being distracted by your surroundings.


4. Organise your break times

Make sure you don’t study for too long at a time or too short a time as you don’t want to get burned out when learning German but you also don’t want to not be productive in your German learning. It’s also easy to get distracted if you are hungry or tired, as it can be more difficult to concentrate on your German studies. Having a clear goal in mind will help keep you focused and on track when learning German so set a specific goal for your break times. It’s also best to plan out your break times ahead of time so that you are more organised when it comes to learning German. By planning ahead, you’ll also be able to ensure that you make the most of your break and get the necessary rest and relaxation. Try to get active during your break times too by going for a short walk or getting some fresh air to help clear your mind from your German learning sessions.


5. Create a schedule

One of the best ways to minimize distractions is by creating a schedule that works for you. When making your schedule, make sure to allow yourself time for eating, sleeping, exercising and doing the things you love. You should also make sure there is lots of time to relax and socialize with friends while learning German. Make sure to plan for specific learning exercises when learning German and allocate specific times for those German learning exercises in order to ensure that you are staying on track. Remember to include enough time to complete each exercise so that you stick to your schedule.


6. Try a new Study technique

There are many ways to manage your time and stay focused when you are learning German. One of the most popular is the Pomodoro Technique, also known as the Pomodoro Method. This method involves working in short bursts of time with regular breaks between them, named after the word pomodoro which is Italian for tomato and was originally used as a kitchen timer to implement this technique.

Here's how it works:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes, then work until you hear it go off

  • Take a 5-minute break after each 25-minute session

  • Repeat steps 1 & 2 four times during your day

This method of learning is great for improving your German as you have short study times so that you don’t get overwhelmed and even in such short amounts of study time you can still learn a lot of German as is it easier to focus for shorter amounts of times with short breaks rather than longer study times with no breaks.


7. Study in accordance with your learning style.

Everyone has a different style of learning, there are 4 different ways that people learn;

  • Visual learners: the best ways to learn as a visual learner is by pictures, drawing, presentations, diagrams, mind maps, watching videos and using colour by highlighting information.

  • Auditory learners: the best ways to learn as an auditory learner is through group discussions, listening to information, recording study notes, reading aloud, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and listening to music.

  • Kinaesthetic learners: learn through experience, therefore the best way to learn with this learning style is by incorporating physical activities into your German learning sessions, taking notes while you move, using physical objects to practice and learn German, getting a hands-on experience when learning German, playing physical games such as role-play or acting out situations when learning German, move around when learning German e.g. dance or play a sport when studying German.

  • Reading/writing learners: If you have this learning style then it’s pretty straightforward when it comes to learning read as much as you can, take notes while you read, practice writing in different forms like writing essays, poems, and stories and practice summarizing the material you read

Learning German in accordance to your learning style will help you learn German faster since you’ll be learning in a style accustomed to you so it will help you avoid being distracted easily.


Conclusion

There are many ways to minimize distractions and stay focused so that you can get the best out of your German studies.


If you want to limit distractions while learning German, check out the GermanMind website where you can find the best German courses in Dublin, suitable for every level of German learners at great prices.



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