Studying and Working as a Language Student


As Director of Studies, I see students who come to Langports in the hope of finding new career opportunities and possibly a new life in Australia. The decision to leave their home country and pursue their dream is a brave one, especially if this dream also means trying to master a new language.

Learning a new language as an adult is challenging, and takes dedication, practice, and a considerable amount of time. In many cases, our students feel they do not have enough time to achieve their goals. In my experience, this is because their time here feels short due to a heavy workload – in many cases – outside their English classes. Living in Australia, in particular in Sydney, can be expensive and therefore holding down a job while studying full time can be overwhelming, exhausting, and detrimental to a student’s language learning progress.

Working while studying has the benefit of earning money and relieving financial pressures. On the downside, it often leaves students tired, unable to study, and eventually frustrated with their lack of study progress. When a person feels like this it becomes even more difficult to find the right mindset that will enable them to improve their language skills and achieve their goals. This situation is not ideal and many students experience this vicious circle.

So how can this circle be broken?

It is not an easy thing to do but there are steps you can take that will help you continue on your study path while working.

  1. Efficient Time Management

Think about the time you spend at school, at work and at home. Then think about the tasks you have to do (homework, revise, study, practice) that will enhance your learning. Find times throughout the day to fit in a little bit of study. Make use of  your bus or train journey; stay a little longer at school before you go to work and do some studying; set aside time on your days off for studying. A little bit of regular revision goes a long way.

  1. Be Proactive

Set yourself mini goals for each week, e.g. reading a book, or newspaper articles in English, or even watching TV. By making these activities part of your daily/weekly routine, you will help yourself increase your vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Also, be more aware of what is going on around you in terms of language use. Read signs, listen to people, and ask questions if you do not understand or see/hear something interesting. Take notes and refer back to them. These “real life English snippets” are a valuable support tool in your language learning.

  1. Allow yourself some free time

Allocate time during the week during which you do nothing and enjoy this time. Giving yourself a guilt-free break from the demands of being a working student is more important than you think. There is nothing worse than being out with friends or watching TV or doing anything relaxing with a massive feeling of guilt inside you. You deserve to have time off without thinking about anything. This will allow you to get the necessary relaxation and recreation time you need to function properly. Do activities you enjoy doing, and which give you back your energy. Only by finding enjoyment and relaxation will you be able to find the strength to continue your journey.

Now, you will probably think, “I know all of this” and wonder why I am writing about it. I do so because I see what the difference is between successful students and less successful students: self-discipline. Self-discipline will make you follow through, push on, and succeed. There is a difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. There is a difference between talking about what you are going to do and actually doing it. And, there is a difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it.

I was studying and working at the same time and I do understand completely how difficult it is. Therefore, I know from my own experience that it does require determination, resilience and discipline. Periods of frustration will stand in the way of the necessary “can-do attitude” that you need to get through this period of your life. But believe me, if you apply yourself, focus on your goal, and follow the three steps above, success will be your reward.

Good luck!

Birgit Hartl

Director of Studies

Langports Sydney

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