Bree here again! If you were anything like me, during school, you often stayed up all night — right before a big paper was due or an important exam. After doing that so often, you may have eventually begun to feel like nighttime equals study time. Maybe that translated to your language-learning process, too.
I thought I was a night owl.
I remember being SO excited about learning Spanish and doing immersion that I’d stay up into the wee hours of the morning attentively watching my favorite shows in Spanish, only to wake up the next day completely exhausted and dragging my heels.
I burned myself out.
After the adrenaline of learning a new language wore off, Spanish felt tiring. But I drudged on because I thought I had to stay up late and spend as much time in Spanish as humanly possible if I wanted to make progress.
Late nights = success, right?
That’s what I learned in college. Why shouldn’t that apply to language learning?
The truth is, it doesn’t.
Cramming all night will wear you out. It might work for a single homework assignment or exam, but it’s not sustainable for something that takes as much time as language learning.
In fact, it’ll do worse than cause burnout. It’ll damage your language ability and slow down your progress. You simply can’t pay attention to something, let alone remember anything if you’re exhausted.
From night owl to early bird →
Something had to change, so I made a commitment to go to bed early and start waking up early.
To accomplish that, I bought this alarm clock that wakes me up by shining a spotlight in my face with the intensity of 1,000 suns. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it sure feels that bright at the crack of dawn.)
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. Surprisingly, the hardest part wasn’t the waking up part but convincing myself that it was okay to go to bed earlier and that I’d catch up on my study the next morning — after I was well rested.
However, after a week or so, I had successfully created the habit, and I was waking up early without the struggle!
It turns out I was an early bird in denial…
Let me tell you, the difference in my ability to comprehend Spanish was like night and day. (This pun was an accident, but I’m keeping it.)
As much as I hated to admit it, waking up early was awesome. I had successfully replaced my late-night cramming habit with a relaxing early-morning routine.
I was able to concentrate better, I wasn’t exhausted, and I actually looked forward to spending time with Spanish again.
Try it out for yourself!
If you’ve found yourself in the same place I was in, definitely consider switching up your schedule. While it’s true that there are people who work better at night, the majority of people are just early birds in denial — like I was.
When do you like to spend time language learning? How’s that working out for you? Have you ever considered changing your language learning schedule? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!