Learning a new language is like forming a habit (something you do without thinking). You have to stay interesting and engaged to keep going if you want to make progress. But what are some good ways to stay motivated while learning a language?
But just like forming a new habit, learning a new language takes motivation. You have to keep at it (continue with it) in order to get better. But sometimes you can get burnt out (have no more desire), lose your motivation, or even just get bored.
In addition to some other tips we offered in a previous blog on how to stay motivated when learning a language, we’ve thought up a few more tips to help you keep on top of your language learning. How many can you stick with?
Keep Your Goals in Mind
Do you want to have a conversation with a native speaker on your next international vacation? Or do you want to keep your mind sharp as you get older?
If you are going to learn something new, you have to have a good reason to do it.
Whatever your goal is when learning a new language, it’s important to keep your hopes in mind. If you can do this, you’ll know exactly what you’re working towards, and it will help to keep you focused and motivated.
If you don’t have a goal right now, set one! Think to yourself, “what can I gain from learning this language?” Maybe you want a promotion (to advance, a higher position) at work, or want to order food at a restaurant in the local language the next time you’re on vacation. Think of something you’d like to achieve, and then work towards that.
Track Your Progress
It’s easy to get bogged down (slowed, restricted, discouraged) in the details when working towards a new goal. A good way to stay on top of how far you’ve come is to track (record) your progress on a weekly basis.
Keeping a journal (diary, written record) of your progress is a great way to stay motivated while learning a language. For example, write down all the new vocabulary you’ve learned that week, write a few sentences, or track your feelings on your progress so far. The ability to look back and actually see how much you’ve learned can really encourage you!
If you set milestones (goal posts, a timeline) for yourself, reward yourself when you reach each one!
Finding both big and small ways to reward yourself for all your hard work will only encourage you to work harder in the long run.
For example, you could give yourself the goal of only having dessert at the end of your meal if you can order it in the second language! Or maybe decide to go for a weekend away to that country once you have earned a certain level. Whatever the reward, try to think of something that will look “juicy” and attractive! What a great way to stay motivated while learning a language when you have a big (or small) prize along the way.
Burnout can be a terrible thing. You work really hard at something for weeks on end, but sometime you get to a point where you just feel bored, discouraged, and tired. This happens especially to people who try to do too much, too quickly!
Don’t let this happen with your language learning! You should always feel that learning is fresh and that the time is well spent. Taking breaks from all your hard work is just as important as the work itself. Take a day or two off from learning once a week, and do something completely unrelated. When you return to learning the language, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back in the saddle (continue, like getting back on a horse)!
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Learning a new language is difficult! This is why it’s important to not be too hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack (be patient with yourself) and understand that you’ve taken on a really awesome, super hard task. As the idiom goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” understand that you probably won’t make huge progress overnight and that’s okay!!
Take it one step at a time, and just see how far you come! Perfecting a skill takes patience and time- and learning a language is no different.
Do you have any tips to stay motivated while learning a language? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and can guarantee that these tips do work! Just keep at it!!