By now most people know the best way to study Chinese (or any language) is to study everyday. Cramming for languages may help you pass tests, but it doesn’t lead to long-term understanding and ability. Mastering Chinese takes constant exposure–studying Chinese for a few minutes is just one way to do it. But getting oneself to study everyday, even for a few minutes, is a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve come up with a simple way to make it more manageable.
Most people try and tell themselves:
I will study Chinese today.
It’s better to say:
I will study Chinese for 5 minutes today.
An even more effective way to get you studying would be to say:
I will study Chinese flashcards for 5 minutes today.
But the best way I’ve found is to say:
I will study Chinese flashcards for 5 minutes today while waiting in line for coffee.
In the last example, I’ve decided on the location, the duration, and the activity, it’s very specific. The more specific you get, the easier it is to fit into your daily schedule. Some keys to remember: Short tasks are effective, and variety is the spice of life. It doesn’t matter how short a task is. Small wins combined lead to great accomplishments. And mixing up your study patterns will keep you fresh and inspired.