Learning a New Langauge - SWH Added

Updated on April 18, 2019
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
7 answers

I find that in the morning when I am getting ready for work, I am spending about an hour or so in complete silence. Once in awhile, I will listen to the radio, but generally it is just me in a quiet house from the time I get up until I leave for work. It seems like "wasted" time to me and I was thinking today that maybe I could be using this time to learn a second language. It would have to be something I could download on my phone and just listen to - no actual interaction (other than just verbally repeating the words). No pictures or picking the right answer on a screen. Is there such a thing? I have audible on my phone and unlimited data (no wifi at my house yet). Would prefer a free app or at least low cost to start to see if it is something I would want to continue doing before spending any larger sums of money. Any ideas would be amazing. It would be fun to take actual classes, but between work, working out, and working on houses, I feel blessed to have this hour in the morning to "squander" on this :)

As an aside, and for those who are "oldtimers" here and know a bit about my story - after working from home for 11 years, I told my boss I needed to a) move and b) work back in an office. Hubby and I ended up purchasing a 2nd home in a neighboring state 5 hours away, and my boss opened a branch office in that town so I would have a place to go to work. My husband still lives at the old house and shortly after I moved here, we were able to find a group home for our 19 yr old special needs child to move to. I drive back to the old house every other weekend to see my husband and work on packing and house repairs (we will eventually sell that house and hubby will move here), but we both felt it was important to give me a break after raising 6 kids for 30+ years, of which many were spent raising very high needs special needs kids and working from home full time and basically taking care of everyone else's needs by mine (between hours and commute - hubby was gone for 60 - 80 hrs per week most of those years, so I really was doing it all by myself). I work tons of hours right now, but I also go to the Y nearly daily to work out. I've made some friends, have a place to hang out after work and have a drink. It has been a blessing that I have this time to regroup before hubby moves here and we spend some time figuring out our lives with each other.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the info and support, everyone! This hour that I am talking about, I am washing my face, doing my hair and make up, packing my breakfast and lunch for the day, etc. so it isn't like I could just sit an look out a window and enjoy some downtime instead. I don't have TV or internet or anything so I do have plenty of quiet downtime at home at the end of the day - a huge novelty for me for sure! In fact, if I could get away with it, I'd not move the TV to this house when hubby comes . . . I love not having a TV now.

More Answers


answers from Boston on


Glad to hear the update on your life. I am so happy you are taking time for yourself and that the boss was so cooperative. I'm happy you've made friends for yourself and are starting to think about what YOU need, after so many years burning out and taking care of 3 generations of family members.

I'm an experienced Spanish teacher - I used to teach middle schoolers, now I tutor mostly adults (because they want to be there) and occasionally a teen (but only if they want to be there and not if the parents are pushing/punishing them). I don't know of apps like what you mention, but I don't have a lot of experience with apps anyway. What I can say is that, if you find something, it will ONLY word if you are an auditory learner. I think you could learn individual words and some individual phrases ("green - verde" and "thank you - gracias" and so on), but then what? How do you string them together? After you ask someone a question or make a statement to them, how would you decipher the response? Most people are at least partly visual learners, which means using a book or a website or direct interaction with a human so you can decipher facial expressions and helpful gestures. If you are not visual at all, maybe you could do it by listening. But I think you should use that only as getting a start, and not as getting yourself to the level of conversing. Otherwise you'll be frustrated.

Also, pay attention to the native speakers and make sure they are from the area you think you might travel to or using the same accent as the people you'll run into and speak with. Learning Spanish from a Spaniard is totally different from learning from a Mexican - in fact, a friend of mine who was raised in Puerto Rico and is fully bilingual (Spanish as first language, then English) just traveled to Spain on business, and even he had a tough time. Same goes for French in Canada, France or Haiti. And so on.

Finally, consider enjoying that hour of downtime when you don't really have to do anything on top of getting ready for work. You have spent decades multi-tasking and never taking a moment to breathe or just let your thoughts wander. You might consider doing just one thing at a time for now. That hour that you stop and have a drink at night? Take some of that in the morning, have a cup of coffee, and sit and watch the trees leafing out or the birds at the feeder.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I have experience with learning other languages, and I agree with Diane that you probably won't get too far just listening to something on your own. No reason not to try, just tune your expectations to that possibility.

Thank you so much for the update! It is great to hear that your life is in a calm place now. Dang, you worked hard for that 30 years! As Diane B and the others said, I wonder whether your mind is just feeling a little off-balance with the idea that you don't have to take care of anyone else and go a hundred miles a minute? If you are really WANTING to learn another language, great, however if it's just a part of you getting antsy at the idea of not going a hundred miles a minute, it might be interesting to see what you get from being still for that hour. If that really doesn't work for you, you could use the time to explore new types of music (there are lots of internet radio stations which specialize in every kind of music on the planet, I think!). You also could listen to audiobooks or pod-casts about topics you want to learn about. What a treat, having that time you can use as you wish!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Nice to hear you're doing well. So nice that your boss accommodated you :) That's wonderful and must make you feel valued.

You need to (if I may say this) stop thinking of downtime as 'wasted' time. I agree with Diane. You must still be in busy mode. I know you're a do-er (I have a sister like this) who takes care of everyone :)

But if you need to take on one more thing - if that's what makes you feel good, I will check with my son who had an app for Spanish. I have spoken a second language since I was small but I learned through talking with others.

I was going to try meditating (there are apps for this but I have yet to really get into apps). I wonder if anyone here meditates .... it's that whole mindfulness thing. I have to admit, the idea of it kind of stresses me out lol.

Congratulations on the move and making friends etc. I think it sounds wonderful. Good for you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm just the opposite. i find having an hour or two or three during the day to spend in total silence is absolutely vital to my ongoing sanity. if i'm doing housework i do like to have the tv or music on, but my brain requires frequent and prolonged periods of zero input other than my thoughts in order to stay (relatively) sane.

it sure does sound as if this little interim time is a huge blessing for you. perhaps it's the years and years of zero you time that's making you feel as if some quiet time on a daily basis now means you're 'wasting' it.

nothing wrong with some language training. i don't know of any good ones that are free, but my son has a fancypants apple watch that does real-time translations for him. maybe you can find something like that.

but unless you're burning to learn a new language, it might be more useful to you to explore the silence, and see what about it is making you feel uncomfortable. you ARE still very very busy, so an hour of silence doesn't, to me, sound like very much.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on


See if one of these will work for you.

Recreational reading is something I really enjoy but there have been times when there just were not enough hours in a day.
It's a pleasure to get a great book and read it cover to cover in one weekend - just drink the story in! - and it's hard when you are so busy that it just can't be done.
So sometimes I'll just read a chapter when ever I get a 15 min break.
Takes a long time to finish a book that way but the reading for fun is worth it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Not doing is just as important as doing. Silence is awesome. I love being in complete silence with my thoughts. However, I recommend sing along language learning. My kids took this Spanish in school where the sang along to songs with the lyrics in Spanish. I would play it in the car. You will learn faster and it’s mindless and after a few times will know the words completely.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Congratulations on your exciting new chapter! You deserve some peaceful silence, that is not wasted time...enjoy it! (But if you want to learn a language, that sounds like fun, you have good tips below.)

1 mom found this helpful
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