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Guest Post: How to Stay Motivated When Learning a Language

Motivation quote

Did you start your language learning with total commitment, only to lose interest after other life events took over? I know I did.

Learning Spanish at university was an exciting challenge. I had visions of myself jetting off to the Costa Del Sol, chatting with friendly locals, and sunning myself on the beach.

I practiced a lot in class and used my morning commute to learn new words. I aced all the tests. When I graduated from university, I celebrated with a holiday in Spain.

But then I began to feel less enthusiastic. I started a full-time job and with no Spanish class to motivate me, I didn’t get much practice. I began to lose my language skills. It happened so gradually that I only realised when I returned to Spain and struggled with basic conversations.

I had a choice at this point. I could either give up or I could persevere. I don’t like admitting defeat. So I’m now learning Spanish again. Here are techniques that I use to stay motivated:

1. Practise little and often 

Don’t think of your language learning as a time-consuming project that you can’t fit into your schedule. By practicing little and often, language learning becomes a manageable goal that you’ll enjoy. You’ll also remember more and progress quicker. Aim to learn 8 to 12 new words per session. I spend 15 minutes a day on my Spanish.

2. Establish a routine 

You are more likely to continue with your studying if you practise at the same time each day. For example practice during your morning commute to work. Choose a time when you are most alert. I work best in the evening, so I try to learn some Spanish at this time.

3. Plan a variety of activities 

If you keep doing the same things each day you’ll get bored and demotivated. Vary your language learning activities. Some days I learn a word list and other days I might do a puzzle. Testing your knowledge with puzzles and other activities gives you the chance to assess how much you’ve learned and revise any weak areas.

4. Get live practice 

If you don’t have time for a class, find a language exchange partner. You can even meet on Skype. Also consider joining a conversation club – not only will you get to practice your language skills, but you’ll also meet new people and have a good time. Many conversation clubs also have cultural activities where you can learn about the culture in the country. My local Spanish conversation club also has salsa nights, tapas evenings, and Spanish quiz nights.

5. Work toward an end goal 

A goal helps you decide what activities to focus on and keeps you motivated. I want to travel around Spain. So I do a lot of speaking activities for everyday situations. However someone studying for a written exam may include activities on structuring an essay.

6. Praise yourself for every achievement 

If you have a positive attitude, you’ll be curious to learn more. When I assess what I’ve achieved at the end of my Spanish session, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Stay motivated by using these techniques to fit language learning into your life. You can do it!

Carol Brennan

Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and qualified TEFL tutor. She writes authority blog posts on e-learning for online education companies who want to sell their services to students. Find out more at Writer Carol.

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