There’s probably never been a time when so many people around the world have worked from home at the same time. What was recently unthinkable became reality overnight because of the coronavirus crisis. Space is made on the kitchen table for the laptop, meetings are held by videoconference, and lunch comes from the refrigerator instead of the cafeteria.
We’ve all had our own experiences in the recent work days — probably all very different. Some of us had to come to an agreement with our partner and children about who uses what part of the house and when. Others can maybe already confirm what was often assumed to be the case: That despite all the potential distractions, you just might be able to get more work done at home than in the office. But one thing is sure: For everyone who didn’t already work from home regularly, the next few weeks will be a challenge. Let’s not kid ourselves — it doesn't look like we’ll be returning to the office anytime soon.
In light of this difficult situation, it’s especially important that your personal development goals don’t get left behind. Were you in the process of learning a new language? Then this crisis shouldn’t prevent you from continuing with it. The following tips will help you keep track of your personal learning goals in these turbulent times.
1. Make sure your goals are clear
As soon as the most important aspects of your home office are set up, you can again pay attention daily to your longer-term goals. What were you planning to learn this year? Double-check that your learning goals are still realistic under the new circumstances. If you need to, make some adjustments and ensure that your goals follow the SMART method. The important thing is to write down your goals and hang them somewhere so that you can see them from your new workspace.
2. Keep or establish good habits
With language learning, regularity is everything. But there’s high risk that your painstakingly established learning routines get interrupted by the crisis and aren’t continued. It doesn't have to be that way! Did you have a routine that worked well in the office? Think about how you can retain your good habits at home as well. Or did you learn more sporadically instead? Then use the opportunity to establish a good routine. How about 15 minutes of Babbel right after lunch? Start with small steps, but keep with it.
3. Plan focused time during your work day
Your first days working at home were surely full of updates, last-minute agreements, and nerves. That’s not to be avoided with the current situation. As soon as you can, try to build time for focused work into your day. Discuss with your team when you’re available and when you can mute your messages. What’s certain is that quiet and concentration are necessary for learning well. Also consider when your preferred time for learning is. Is it in the evening, when all the urgent tasks are completed? Or is it rather in the morning, so that your learning routine doesn’t get pushed aside by day-to-day business?
4. Create a comfortable space for learning
Even if the developments in the next few weeks aren’t predictable, it looks like we’ll all be spending much more time in our homes than usual. It’s all the more important that we feel at ease there. If possible, separate the spaces for work from private life. For example, you can cover up your improvised workspace on the kitchen table in the evening. You can also try to find a specific place for learning, even if it’s just a certain chair that you always sit in to learn. For some variety, you can combine your learning plan with a walk outside, perhaps with an interesting podcast in the language you’re learning.
5. Learn together with your colleagues
Have you previously met with others to learn together? Language learning in a group isn’t something you have to give up when you’re isolating at home. Meet up in a video conference with your learning partners, set up a new group, or practice one-on-one with a colleague who speaks the language you’re learning. What’s clear is that it’s especially important now that you and your colleagues motivate each other to keep with it in spite of this crisis. Set goals together, practice with each other online, and make language learning a social event!
6. Bring variety into your learning routine
Fortunately, there are many possibilities for making progress with a language. If you’re getting bored at home, you can at least vary your language learning. In the next few weeks, you don’t have to feel guilty for spending a bit more time with Netflix & Co. Use the opportunity and watch a few series in the language you’re learning, with subtitles. You can also find helpful learning videos with tips for different languages. Do you prefer reading? Then have a look at our multilingual Babbel Magazine. For employees of companies that use Babbel Live, you also have the option to perfect your language with a professional teacher.
7. Remind yourself why you started learning
The most important motivation for learning a language is having a good reason for it. It can be for work or for your private life. Whatever drives you personally, how about organizing the time you’re compelled to be at home in a way that lets you make a big leap forward in your dream language? Think about the time after the crisis, on seeing your colleagues and friends, on your first vacation after coronavirus. Wouldn't it be nice if you could speak a new language?
Joachim Haupt, communications researcher
As consultant, lecturer, and researcher, Joachim is currently focusing on the challenges of organizational communication. He’s particularly interested in how people and organizations can learn from each other — and especially the role communication plays.