I am a major advocate of sticking to a system. I don’t really care which system you use, even though I am quite proud of mine, as long as you follow SOMETHING. Too many people say, I’m going to learn X and they buy a lot of book and CD’s and Podcasts and just start studying. They read one blog and then just start doing what they recommend, that is until the next blog contradicts it and tells them to do something else. Even though they are doing it, it’s not consistent and with a purpose of know WHY they are doing it. Systems help you organize yourself and help you plan those free moments that you have to practice.
Then why are you writing this post?
One of the most important things to understand about a system is when not to follow it. I recently wrote a post about how you should live a language and not just learn it. If you can find a more realistic and natural way to use the language, that activity should always out way what you do in your system.
For example, this last weekend I found myself in an odd situation. My wife had gone to a girls party and had taken the two older kids to play with the girls of her party host. My younger too were watching Toy Story 3 and I was oddly free to do practically ANYTHING I wanted. At first I started to just study as usual, but then I realized that this was going to be a very rare opportunity to try to have a language exchange over the internet in peace.
I clicked on over to sharedtalk.com, and found a young peruvian friend. I helped him with his English and he helped me with my Spanish. I totally feel like I got the better part of the deal since we talked in Spanish most of the time. The whole exchange was not planned and was definitely not part of my system, but it was more helpful than any language study I could have done.
Yes, make your system or follow mine. Adapt it, refine it, and avoid straying from it. Then when the opportunity comes up to do something better, throw it out! You’ll be happy you did.