When you start learning a language as a complete beginner it is easy to feel focused and motivated as it is fairly easy to grasp the basics, learn key words and start to make yourself understood in the language. Even asking for a coffee in the target language on your holiday can feel amazing once you realise that people really do understand you. As you progress in the language you come across more difficult things to understand and as you try to have a real conversation you realise how hard this can be. It is then easy to feel de-motivated and as if you will never be fluent in the language. This is normal! The key is not to give up and try the following tips to help you stay focused and motivated to keep learning:
Try to set goals that you know you can achieve in the short term – say in one week or one month. For example, you may decide that you will learn 5 words a day, learn 3 irregular verbs in one week or learn everything you possibly can about clothes and clothes shopping in one month. By doing this, you will be able to congratulate yourself on your achievement which will spur you on to achieve the next one.
TIP: Write your goal somewhere that you will see it every day to keep you focused.
It is natural to find some areas of the language more difficult than others. A lot of people put off the more difficult things until later or end up ignoring them altogether. For example some people find listening to the target language so difficult so they just don’t do it. This is a bad idea because the only way to improve listening is to do it regularly. By focusing on the difficult parts first you will feel more motivated to continue learning the easier parts.
Exercise has been proven to boost memory skills as it stimulates growth in the brain. So why not kill the two birds with the one stone and learn a language whilst exercising; you work both mind and body at the same time – perfect!
People who have something to work towards are much more successful and are less likely to quit learning a language.
i) Sit an exam. For example, you might choose to work towards an exam to gain a recognised qualification that you can put on your CV. The pressure of knowing that you have to do an exam is enough to make anyone learn.
ii) Join a Meetup group. Knowing you are going to meet native speakers face-to-face and will have to speak to them should really make you study hard otherwise you may find it difficult to understand what they are saying to you and respond appropriately.
iii) Book a trip or holiday to the country. If you know you are going to the country where the language is spoken, this is a huge motivation to grasp the key practical you will need to get by in day to day situations. You could even book yourself onto an immersion course at a language school abroad. You will have to speak the language all day every day. What is better motivation than this!?
Having a specific goal to work towards will really boost your motivation.
When you do well or achieve the goal you were working towards you should go out and treat yourself to something you have been wanting. This serves as an extra incentive to keep going. Maybe you passed that A1 exam, or maybe you had your first session with your language exchange partner or you read your first whole book in Spanish – celebrate your achievement! It will motivate you to reach your next goal.