Learning a foreign language can seem like a tedious task. Even when we are on the right track: encountering new words, communicating with others, watching movies in that language and so on. Sometimes it just wears us out and makes us feel as if we were forcing our way through, rather than enjoying the small victories that each daily achievement used to bring when we had just started our adventure.
In the long run we end up losing our interest. We even forget the very reason that made learning this language such an invigorating prospect. Now it’s just a drag!
But what happened? Why did we lose our spirits?
A DEEPER LOOK AT MOTIVATION
Motivation comes into play every time we are planning and initiating new activities. In this case – deciding whether we are going to spend these extra 30 minutes practicing Portuguese or, rather, return to bed and watch another episode of “Modern Family”.
Do not confuse it with ardor, which we feel when we are just starting a new language learning process. Desire does not equal motivation. It fuels us really well, but this kind of incentive does not last for long. In other words, real motivation helps us stick to our plan and fulfill the goals that we have raised for ourselves.
Reasons motivate us. The more reasons for learning a language we have, the more agitated we are feeling. But people learn languages for many different purposes and these purposes are not all equally motivating. Many social and linguistic scientists agree that people who like speaking a certain foreign language, who like the culture behind it and want to familiarize with it are more likely to achieve great results than those who are learning a language only for practical reasons, such as school or job requirements, adaptation in a new living environment, acquiring higher social or career status and so on.
Of course, it does not mean that people driven to learn a language out of necessity are doomed to struggle more or even fail. There are many contributing factors and we usually have integrative intentions as well as practical ones when we decide to learn a language.
You might say that simply liking Japan will not help much at becoming fluent in Japanese. You wouldn’t be wrong. Learning a foreign language and sticking to it day in and day out for months requires real effort. It becomes much easier, however, if we look at it in a proper way. If learning a language is not working out for you anymore, it is likely that some of these strategies of perspective will make the difference:
- Shouting “I must” will not spark our enthusiasm as much as saying “I want” will. But we cannot fool ourselves so simply if we are not entirely sure why we want it. We need to give us certain reasons that are important to us, that truly matter. For example, I want to learn Swedish because I really want to read August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” in original language. Or, I want to learn French because I am going to Marseille to meet a local guy with whom I have been chatting on the internet for the past 3 years and I really want to impress him with my language proficiency. The possibilities here are endless.
- Setting personal milestones help a lot. No matter how you choose to learn a language, be it from a handbook, music, movies, by practicing in live interactive situations, using Bliu Bliu or all of them combined. Write down some long-term milestones, for example learn a certain song in the target language that you really like. Or continue learning new words until you can more or less understand what they are talking about in that certain radio podcast. Small, daily milestones are even more important as they encourage you to practice on a daily basis. For example, set a certain number of new words that you have to reach daily on Bliu Bliu. Again, use your creativity to come up with all sorts of entertaining achievements.
- Diversify the ways you are learning a language. Especially if you spend a lot of time trying to master grammar and other rules. Language learning shouldn’t be like a chore or even a routine. It should be an adventure, a fascinating experience. Interact with people, natives and practitioners alike, use media and arts to broaden your experience with the language. Watch movies, commercials, plays, listen to music, read books, blogs, news, play games. Do whatever you want, just do not stick to one source.
- As a matter of fact, diversifying learning experience is much easier with Bliu Bliu than any other language learnings tool. It excels at providing a diverse experience of language content, from basic text and sound recordings to opportunities of communication with other learners and teachers from all around the world.
Motivation isn’t simply important in language learning. It is an absolutely essential part of learning process. It is a state of mind that we just cannot do without.