How to Learn a Language Effectively? – Without Using a Minute of Your Time!

By | December 21, 2016

You don’t need to use 10 years to learn a language. You don’t need to use hours and hours in front a textbook. You don’t need to memorize long vocabulary lists. There are more efficient ways. Today I am going to share you one very powerful tip on how to learn a language effectively.

I have talked about this subject already in some articles before but I think it’s so important tip for language learning that it’s important to repeat it. And it can also be that you haven’t read the other articles yet.

How to Learn a Language Effectively

Use Your Headphones When Going by Bike to Learn a New Language

How Much “Dead Time” Do You Have?

Have you ever thought how much time you spend on getting from one place to another or waiting in lines during your life? How much does it take to go to work, come back home, go to the gym, come back, go to the supermarket and so on? We are spending a huge amount of time when getting from one place to another. One study showed that people used every year 588 hours (=23 days!) every single year in transport in one big city in Europe. 588 hours! C’moon! And you said that you don’t have to time study languages!?

A little while ago I was working in a refugee center in Finland. The distance between my home and the workplace was a bit over 11 kilometers and I always went by bike. It took about 40-45 minutes to go one way. So back and forth it was around 1,5 hours. Let’s calculate how much it made in a week back and forth.

1,5 hours x 5 (workdays in a week) = 450 minutes = 7,5 hours. So every week I used 7,5 hours for going by bike to work and back home. In four weeks it makes 30 hours. Then I made the other trips too but we don’t need to calculate here because I just want to give you an example.

30 hours is quite a lot of time. It’s almost a full work week (because a normal work week in Finland is about 40 hours). Almost always when I got to work or back home I put on the headphones and started listening to a French podcast Francais Authentique, a Youtube video in French or French audio Bible. Every day I was learning something new and reviewing the old knowledge. And the best part of that is that I didn’t use a single minute for actually studying the language. I just put the headphones on and started going by bike. Simple and effective!

I studied the amount of the whole language course without using even a minute or without using any money. Quite effective?

Compare this to a situation where a person goes to a language course 2 times a week. He goes for 20 lessons in a semester and pays hundreds of euros. In addition, he wastes time to transport when he goes to the course and comes from the course. Actually, I am doing that right now but at least the company pays the course now so for me it’s free. But I am thinking that is it really the most effective way to learn a language. If I compare it to my summer when I learned French without using anytime, I would say that it’s not.

“Does It Really Work?” Yes, It Does.

You may be asking is it really possible to learn a language only by listening without seeing the written forms. I can guarantee that you will be surprised how well it works. At least I have been surprised how effective way it is to learn a language by only listening to it. I remember when I once started listening to a podcast and I probably understood something like 65-70% of it. Then after listening to it for one month every day I understood probably around 90% or even more of it. And I hardly did anything but listen to a podcast.

Of course, you will not become a professional writer in another language only by listening to it. If you want to become a better writer, in French or Spanish, for example, you need to spend some time writing those languages. But listening to hours and hours of your target language you will improve all your skills with that language. Mostly listening and speaking skills but I have noticed that it also improves your reading and writing skills.

How to Learn a Language Effectively

Make your car a moving university by listening to useful material

“What Should I Listen Then?”

Basically, anything that you listen to your target language makes some progress. But if you are a beginner it’s recommended to listen to something that is targeted for you instead of listening to a radio channel where they usually speak very fast. Pimsleur has many courses for beginners and for intermediate/advanced learners too.

Francais Authentique is MUST if you want to learn French. It’s very comfortable to listen and you are learning new vocabulary and phrases while listening to interesting subjects.

RadioLingua has also many useful podcasts like Coffee Break French, Coffee Break Spanish, and Coffee Break Italian. I will write a review about them soon. I listened to Coffee Break French when I was practicing French and I found it useful even though not as entertaining and effective as Francais Authentique.

Then there is a series of LanguagePod101 in several different languages. It seems very useful and for example for learning Finnish is probably one of the best resources out there. Here is a link for FinnishPod101 (full review coming soon). I once studied a little bit of Chinese and searched for good podcasts in Windows Store and I found immediately many good ones. And I believe that if you are using Android or Apple, you can find even more easily.

One very good way to find something interesting study material is to search for interesting videos on Youtube. Then you can listen to videos when you are moving from one place to another. If you don’t have an unlimited internet connection you can download your videos as an MP3 to your phone and listen to them anyway. Last week I just downloaded some German lessons to my phone so I can learn German when I am walking to the gym.

I will write articles in the future about the best podcasts in Spanish, French and other languages so you can know easily how to choose right podcasts. But by searching on Google or Play Store with “Spanish podcasts” you can already find many good ones. Then listen to a little bit of them and choose which one you like the most. Then keep on listening to it.

If you have listened to all episodes, you can listen to them again or move to the next podcast. Sometimes I have listened to same episodes even 5 times when the subject has been interesting and it also strengthens your vocabulary if you listen to same words again and again.

Audiobooks – Two Birds with One Stone

I love audiobooks. By listening to them I can listen to the conversation of the most intelligent and wisest people who have ever written. Even though I wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet them in person during this life I can learn from them by listening to their books.

When you take a good audiobook and listen to it in a language that you are learning, you kill two birds with one stone. You learn the language and wise thoughts at the same time. I have listened to the audio bible in Finnish, English, Spanish, French, and German. It also helps me to learn the vocabulary better because I know the stories and teachings already in the other language. If I don’t know a word I can guess it because I remember already what was the teaching all about in the other language.

One great place to find audiobooks is Amazon’s Audible. You can get some very good audiobooks even for a couple of dollars. And you can also take a 30-day free trial in Audible when you don’t need to pay anything to download your favorite audiobooks. After 30 days you can decide if you want to continue the membership or if you want to cancel so you don’t need to pay anything.


So, here is the process how you learn a new language effectively.

1.Download podcasts/MP3-tracks to your smartphone

2.Put on headphones before you go from place A to B

3.Start learning while moving. Notice that you can use this method also when you are cooking, you are in the gym or literally any time.

What Are Your Favorite Podcasts/Youtube/Radio Channels to Learn Languages?

I have shared my favorite podcasts so now it’s your turn to share yours.

Have you used some of these methods when learning a new language? I want to hear from you. I hope that you leave a comment below and share with all of us what podcasts/Youtube/Radio channels you have liked the most. Has there been any podcast that you didn’t like?

8 thoughts on “How to Learn a Language Effectively? – Without Using a Minute of Your Time!

  1. Adrian

    I am surprised that this does work so well as I thought that this would take a lot more than listening to podcasts, as I was thinking that you would have to memorise phrases and words and practice writing the new language.

    I have tried learning my wife’s language which is czech, needless to say that I found this difficult. I’ve memorised quite a few words and phrases but get easily lost when it’s spoken in conversation.

    So maybe I’ll have to try this way, it’ll probably suit me to look up some YouTube videos and see what’s available.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Adrian,

      learning languages is actually much more easier and more simple than most people think. You don’t need to use hours in front of books memorizing phrases. Instead, you can learn new languages while having fun (especially if you have a Czech wife!)

      Probably you would like to check CzechClass101 on Youtube. There you can find lots of material for learning Czech. Then I would recommend to take “funny” challenges with your wife. 1 day with only using Czech or a dinner when you only use Czech. You have the best teacher at home because she is a native speaker. 🙂

      I wish all the best to your Czech studies!


  2. Dairyn

    That was a very informative. It is cool and interesting to learn a new language by listening. It makes me motivated now to learn Spanish. Learning is fun with easiness.
    It seems you love learning language. That is very good.
    Make it as a habit.
    Keep up the good work.
    More success to you.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Dairyn,

      Spanish is a beautiful language and it was the third language that I mastered myself. In the next week I will publish an article where I will share 5 reasons why learning Spanish is important.

      Learning languages is fun when you find an enjoyable way of learning them. Everyone needs to find something that fits their learning style and character. One of my favorite ways of learning languages is to read the Bible in a new language or listen to an audio bible. 1.1.2017. I will start going through the Bible in German and I commit to read or listen to it every single day.

      If it’s a habit and repeated daily then little progress adds up to big results over the time course.

      Wish you all the best with learning Spanish. Let me know if you need any help. I recommend taking a look to Benny Lewis’ language hacking course “Why Spanish is Easy?


  3. Derek Marshall

    Hi there,

    Thanks for creating and sharing this article with us, – really appreciated – thanks.

    What I love about this is it is really making use of dead time and getting into the habit of being more productive. I regularly now enjoy my breakfast and learn Bahasa Malay using a great free app!

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Derek,

      I am happy to hear that you liked the article and that you are learning Bahasa Malay during your breakfast. I don’t speak very much any Asian language. Only some phrases of Indonesian and Chinese but honestly very very little of both of them.

      But I am planning to move to Asia one day, maybe in 2018 so it would be interest to start studying a new language while living there. I know that learning a new language takes time but with only 30 minutes a day one can make miracles. 30 minutes every single day for a year means 183 hours.

      By the way, what is the app that you are using to learn Bahasa Malay?


  4. Howard

    In my opinion, the best way to learn any language is to have constant speaking practice. In such case, the best way is to find a tutor and native speakers. I can advise Preply for searching native speaking tutors. All other methods you can use as additional way to gain new knowledge and practice already completed material.

    Can you help me with some interesting ways to learn any language?

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Howard,

      I totally agree with you. Benny Lewis’ #1 tip for mastering a new language is also you must speak from day 1.

      Preply is a great opportunity to find tutors and teachers. It’s cool that you can exactly choose what kind of tutor you would like to have. Compare to going to a local language school: You would pay 5-10 times more and you need to have the only teacher they have. Whether he is a good or not.

      Another helpful place is Italki. I used it a lot when I wanted to learn Spanish and I will use it for future languages always when I need.

      For more interesting and creative ways to learn languages, I recommend taking a look at this article.

      I believe that helps 🙂



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