How to learn a language while running

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It’s no secret that exercise improves your brain, but is it possible to learn a language while running? Studies continue to reveal that regular exercise, the kind that puts you out of breath and makes you sweaty, literally boosts the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Since running naturally gets your heart pumping and sweat glands…sweating, it is a viable activity that ensures enhanced brain function. Such conditions are ideal for learning—particularly language learning.

Learn a language while running: But how?

Since most of you might know, I'm from Germany, so English is not my first language (so if you ever find any errors - please forgive me). I've learned it in school, but I wasn't the best student, to be honest.

When I moved to New York I had the privilege to meet Nicole Gouede. English Language Coach, Instructor, Blogger. Proud New Yorker. And now one of my best friends here in the city. Nicole has taught me how to learn a language while running since she knew that this was something I spent so much of my spare time with.

So besides the great English classes we had together (please visit I was basically learning English while running.

Language practice can be so much fun as a runner

If you’re struggling to incorporate consistent language practice into your routine, you may have tried, and not succeeded, to make it work at different times during the day. For instance, saving your language practice for the weekend could have worked except your friends came to town and now you have to entertain.

Evenings could have also been great if you had the willpower and energy to focus on a task after a long, exhausting day at the office.

The commute to work may have also been ideal, only you might still be in the process of waking up, and if your morning coffee has not been consumed yet, fuhgettabouttit! Alas, building your language skills while running might be the solution you didn’t know you had. While running, there are a few language activities you can engage in.

Three of my favorite language activities while running

1. Listen to a podcast. What subject are you most interested in? You can listen to an entire discussion on that very topic in your target language which is a great tool to learn a language while running.

Not only are you learning more about the subject, but you are also noticing new interesting words and expressions and gaining an understanding of their meaning through context. You are even noticing subtle things like the pronunciation and intonation of the speakers.

Two or more speakers on the podcast is a prime opportunity to hear how natives respond to each other. You can pick up a variety of expressions that you would not normally hear in a formal setting. What I like doing after listening to a podcast is writing a summary in the target language. This helps me put new language learned into use.

2. Groove to your playlist. Music is a great tool for language learning especially to learn a language while running. You can pick up new words or catchy phrases over a dope beat. How cool is that?

What I love to do is commit to learning a verse or the chorus of a song in my target language. Take your pick and practice singing along as you run. If you get out of breath, sing along in your head.

3. Tune into a good story. Audible has a pretty good selection of audiobooks in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, and Portuguese.

And of course, if you’re target language is English, you have more than enough to choose from. By listening to a book of your choice, you are getting exposure to a variety of words and expressions that you are likely to use.

What’s more, is that you are probably going to hear them more clearly as narrators must enunciate. If you are inclined to take this activity further, write a summary at a later point in the day just as you would after listening to a podcast. Writing is a powerful means of building your language skills.

Take your workouts to the next level by adding language practice to the mix. Listen to a podcast, playlist, or choose a book from Audible to enhance your language learning process. Your brain will thank you.

This was a guest blog by Nicole Gouede English Language Coach, Instructor, Blogger. Proud New Yorker. Co-founder of Ace Speak Plus: Online Language Training. For more articles or inquiries about courses, visit

Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

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