Casual Language Learning

With the right mix of learning resources, with reasonable short and long term goals, it is possible to get a good foundation in a language by learning only casually. First, let me define what I mean by 'casually.'


Smaller Daily Committment - we're not talking about 2 - 4 hours per day. Maybe only 15 minutes per day.

More Passive than Active - less intensive activities like listening to music or looking up words from a website on a topic that interests you are easier and less taxing on you.

Less Clearly Defined Goals - identify a few activities or resources you would like to use and then use them when you want, in any order you want, for any amount of time you want. When you get bored with something, move on.

Learning Purely for the Enjoyment - study what you feel like studying today. There isn't a strict schedule or regimen that you need to follow.


Learning something is better than learning nothing, and when learning casually enjoyment is the name of the game. What are the benefits of learning a language in such a casual manner?

It's More Fun - by opening up your learning regimen, you will find activities that you like to do and learning a language will be more enjoyable for you.

Less Pressure - some people want to learn a language, but just don't want to be tied to a strict schedule. Maybe taking that pressure off will release the bottleneck that's holding you back.

Fosters Interest - Learning casually can introduce you to all aspects of the language and you can discover even more what you like about it. You can learn the language at your own pace, but you can also pick up the pace and study intensively when you're ready.

Flexible - It allows people with extremely limited time to stay active learning a language when they can't commit more to it (although I definitely believe that even extremely busy people can find more time to learn with all of the opportunities there are today!)


I like to recommend this approach to people who would like to learn several languages, but can't decide which one to start with. Devote the majority of your available time and effort to one language, then study just a little of another language (or two, or more!) just to begin getting exposure to it. When you are ready to step it up to a more intensive level, you will already have a foundation to work with.

I also like to recommend to people who have a great deal of trepidation about language learning to study a language like this, as a way to introduce themselves to the idea that they can learn a language successfully. Hopefully, after repeated exposure to the language and with a growing interest and belief, they will begin to devote greater energy and intensity to it.

Comments for Casual Language Learning

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Learning a Language with 15 minutes a day - playfully
by: Peter Rettig

We just launched GamesforLanguage.com, We did not think about the "casual" approach to language learning, but you certainly have a point. We have found during our Beta phase that one of our lessons (we call them "scenes") takes about 15 minutes on average, which seem to meet your criteria.
We think that our approach of learning a language with quick and easy games will also work for those who approach learning, as you call it "with trepidation", because they remember their school days and boring drills.
I am not sure I agree with your "more passive than active" example, as even looking up words on the web requires some active steps and choices; a better example maybe listening (passively?) to the melody of a foreign language on radio or TV...


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