I think some people have this idea that learning a language is some monumental task that requires uprooting one’s life and living in a foreign land for six months. Because they believe learning a language is this big behemoth, they don’t bother even trying to learn a new language.
Language learning: like eating an elephant
Having learned six languages part-time, without doing any full-time courses or travelling to a foreign country, while still being committed full-time to my work, I can say from experience that you don’t.
That said, it does require work and discipline to learn a language and to effectively learn a language requires daily practice. I have found that I can make good progress in a language by practicing at least 30 min each day. Ideally, you should be doing about an hour, especially at the beginning when it’s about skill acquisition. Later on, as it becomes more about mastery, you can practice a bit less.
To make sure you practice each day, you need to have a clear structure. This is why I like apps: they provide a clear structure and daily goals for you. You don’t have to think too much of what you need to do, you just have to do it. I recommend setting aside time at the beginning or end of each day for language practice and putting reminders in your calendar.
As much as you practice, it also matters how you learn. When I’m starting out with a language, I will focus on understanding the writing system, mastering pronunciation, acquiring basic vocabulary and learning how to build sentences. I will do a lot of self-study with Duolingo or a Flash Card app. Later on, I will practice speaking more and focus more on reading and watching things.
So, absolutely you can learn a language while still having a life. You don’t need to go abroad, you don’t need to enroll full-time in a course, you just need to have a good structure and practice a bit every day.
Because the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.