When learning a new language, it’s normal to feel frustrated or unmotivated. With so many new words and vocabulary rules, it can get overwhelming. In fact, according to a study conducted by Harvard University, a person needs to study a language for at least five years to be fluent, and twenty to completely master it.
That said, staying motivated can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. Here are some tips.
Yes, your ultimate goal is to "learn a new language," but you're going to have to be more specific if you actually want to achieve this. Life coaches featured on NBC News suggest setting small, short-term goals that build up to the bigger picture.
As an example, your first set of goals might look something like this: 1.) Introduce yourself in another language, 2.) Learn all words in the food category and order from a restaurant, 3.) Hold a basic conversation with a local. That way, you have a clear, progressive path that you can work with. This will also help you track your fluency.
Learning a new language is one of the most sought-after skills in today's inter-connected world. For instance, author Samantha Jones emphasized how learning a language is an important part of fields like liberal studies, which extensively cover culture, history and communicating with different people around the world. True enough, statistics from Maryville University highlight the rising demand for liberal studies graduates, as they have skills, like language proficiency, that apply to a wide range of careers. The university points to training and development specialists and information security analysts, two very different careers, as industries that are looking for liberal studies graduates. It is clear that those who study a language through liberal courses can open themselves up to a wide area of expertise and gain a competitive edge over other job seekers.
Another good way to motivate yourself is to find ways to include the language into your daily routine. Eat at restaurants with food from your chosen country (bonus if their menus have local spellings), listen to foreign artists on Spotify, or even watch some of their TV shows (with subtitles, of course). You’ll find that integrating the language into your everyday habits makes the lessons easier to remember and apply in life.
A quick study from our previous post ‘How to Learn a Language Like a Memory Champion’ shows that people process visuals 60,000 times faster than text-based information. This means that, when learning a new language, it’s more effective to do it with accompanying visuals. Language apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Busuu are just some of the tools you can use to make learning more fun and convenient.
Much like how having a teacher or an instructor monitor your progress can really motivate you to study for class, having a foreign language tutor is equally helpful. If you're too busy to enroll yourself in an actual foreign language class, you'll find that there are plenty of tutors on websites like iTalki who are more than willing to teach.
If you're still struggling to muster the motivation to learn, it helps to set a real, working deadline. For instance, you can sign yourself up for a language proficiency test coming up in a couple of months. You can also set a travel date for a country in which your chosen language is spoken. Make sure that by the time you get to visit, you have to at least be able to understand signs, order from a foreign menu, or even talk to the locals at a basic level.
If you’ve tried everything and still need the extra boost, remember why you started learning the language in the first place. Go back to your "why" and appreciate how far you've come, and not how much farther you have to go. As with all journeys, learning takes time and effort, but keeping yourself motivated is half the battle.
About the author: Rain Jiselle found her passion for writing while travelling across Europe as an EdTech consultant. Now pursuing her passion for learning, she teaches reskilling classes for enterprises. When she's not writing, she's teaching animal flow yoga in her favorite studio.