I have run into the ads of a language school on FB several times lately, which advertises itself with the slogan of "no studying at home" citing the father of Scientology as a reference for their methodology....
Well, I have to admit that all polyglots would freak out just hearing that.
What they - and myself also - believe in are:
1. intensive language immersion - even in your native country. Thus: live the language! Deal with it every day. Make if fun!
2. getting into self-directed language learning! With other words: don't wait for the language to be taught to you by a "teacher". We are here to coach you, not to teach you.
This is definitely a far cry from the "no studying at home" approach.
Here is one of my favourite polyglots, the Slovakian interpreter Lýdia Machová and her advice on learning languages:
To give you an idea what intensive language immersion means for me, let me draw up my schedule for one of the languages I am still learning: French. Not all my weeks look the same. Although I have a clearly set long-term timetable and clearly established goals and priorities with topic and grammar points to complete, my days are spontaneously scheduled, always depending on my daily routine, to fit both my work and social life.
My week of studying French
My French used to be level C1, but since I haven’t been using it for a long time I have forgotten quite a lot and I have practically a passive command of the language at the moment. Since I am driving for using it again to full extent I have decided to resume to language practice.
Here is a week of mine with French:
Saturday – in the morning I used my topic based book to cover some words related to the Media and News and filled in the related activities, I looked up the new words using google voice recognition and noted them in my book adding some extra collocations (yes, in the book! I didn’t write them into may exercise book yet) (45 minutes)
After that I read an article in Marie Claire on dairy products :-) and jotted down the new words in my small little online-words-expressions booklet. (20 minutes)
In the afternoon I did my homework and grammar practice book and tried to cover some grammar points before doing my homework. I only finished half of it. (60 minutes)
Oh, while having my lunch I watched the news on TV5. (10 minutes)
Before going to bed I took my topic-based-vocabulary-notebook and reread about 4 pages. I shortly fell asleep (10 minutes)
Sunday - I was quite busy, so I quickly finished my homework (30 minutes)
Later in the afternoon I watched a TEDx Talk of an Art Therapist on Happiness – 15 minute-long-presentation (first without subtitles! and after re-watched some of it with subtitles, only noted down a few unknown words) (30 minutes)
I watched the news on TV5 while having dinner (10 minutes)
Monday: I basically had no time, so I took my online-words-expressions booklet on the bus and tried to memorize some words (10 minutes)
I had my dinner with the news on TV5 again. (10 minutes)
And in the evening before going to bed (around midnight) I took my topic-based booklet and read a few pages. (5 minutes)
Tuesday – in the afternoon I went to my French class (90 minutes)
Later, I tried to find some topic based vocabulary on Quizlet related to Work – I added some of my own list (60 minutes)
I set it for repeat – so while preparing for my next day job the computer kept pronouncing the Quizlet words and repeating them. I had enough of it after about half an hour. :-) ( 30 minutes)
Wednesday – I read an article about the dress code of Brigitte Macron, the French First Lady and I also went through some other celebrity gossips. I didn’t write out any word, I had no time. (15 minutes)
In the evening I watched the next episode of a French TV series. No writing there either. (40 minutes)
Thursday – I covered the next topic based unit in my book, wrote down new words and kept reading the previous topics in my book with all the added words and highlights. (60 minutes)
Friday – In the morning – while sitting at the hairdresser :-) - I did my homework (40 minutes)
In the afternoon I went to have a French conversation class with my other (this time native) French teacher. (90 minutes)
On the way home – on underground M2 - I read the latest news and articles popping up on my FB. (15 minutes)
In the evening we went to Institut Francais (Francia Intézet) for a French Gastronomy Festival where I could find some native French to get involved in a discussion and have some glasses of French wine, listening to French chansons (2 hours)
As you could see on my schedule: real school-like learning took up only a fragment of my language learning process. However, I was definitely committed to studying each and every day!
It is clear that I tried to exploit even fragmented time to deal with the language - on the bus, at the hairdresser, while having lunch etc. which did not need full concentration.
Do I understand everything on TV5? Not at all. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But it is not even the point. The goal is to get used to hearing the language, the pronunciation and the musicality.
Why on earth do I start reading vocabulary before I fall asleep? :-) Well... It's a long held secret. It is explained by the idea that your brain wave frequencies are just different from those when being awake. That's why your brain is perfectly suited to remember words and phrases and store them in the long-term memory in the alpha state. Not all scientists agree on that. But it definitely works for me. How about you? Give it a try. :-)