Learning a new language takes consistent work over a long period of time, and sometimes it's just hard to stick with it. Even the most seasoned polyglots struggle with a lack of motivation from time to time. Here's 7 ways I’ve learned to keep my motivation up during the times when I feel like I have none left.
Celebrate the little victoriesWhen you are learning Spanish, or any new language, there will be times when it seems like you are putting in a lot of work but not seeing any progress. This is just the nature of the learning process. Stay positive and celebrate any progress you make, even if it feels small. You can also reward yourself as you learn. I once bought myself a candy bar after practicing speaking Spanish in the past tense. It was a small gesture, but it felt good.
Have fun in your new languageLanguage learning takes work. There's no way around that, but it can and should also be fun. Learning Spanish goes way beyond reading a grammar book or memorizing verb conjugations. Watch a movie in Spanish. Sing a Spanish song. Play a word game in Spanish with a friend or language partner. There’s countless fun ways to use your new language. Sometimes "studying" actually feels more like playing.
Remember why you chose to learn the languageWhen I first started learning Spanish I wanted to travel to Spain. I made the desktop of my laptop a photo of Madrid so that every time I used my computer I would remember the reason I was working so hard. Try not to forget the excitement and wonder you first had when you started learning!
Build friendships in SpanishIf there are native Spanish speakers near where you live make an effort to get out and become acquainted. Building a friendship in your second language will prove to be an exciting and natural way to improve your abilities. If there aren’t any Spanish speaking communities near where you live, try using an online language exchange to practice and get to know native speakers from around the world.
Keep track of your progressIt’s a great idea to set benchmarks as you learn Spanish so that you can see your progress as you practice. One popular way of doing this is by making a video of yourself speaking Spanish. Don't worry, you don’t have to show the video to anyone else.
If you make a short video of yourself speaking what Spanish you know each month, you will be able to see how much you've improved. Usually in the moment of studying or practicing, it doesn't feel like we're improving, but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture of our language learning journey can really help.
Set weekly goalsSetting small but achievable weekly goals can work wonders for your motivation. It will focus your efforts and at the same time, it will help you keep track of your progress (just like in the previous step). I find it much easier to work on my Spanish everyday if I have a set goal in front of me, and I know exactly what aspect of the language I'm trying to learn and why I'm trying to learn it.
Don’t be afraid to take a day offWhen I study Spanish, I take one day off a week (usually Saturday or Sunday). Sometimes you get burnt out after learning, and you and your brain just need a break. There's nothing wrong with taking a day off to enjoy life and pick up your language learning tomorrow. Just make sure you get right back to it the next day. You can rest but don't get lazy!
Anthony Larsen is a writer and founder of SpanishHackers.com. When he's not providing useful Spanish learning tips he loves to travel and drink overpriced coffee. He may be contacted through Facebook or Twitter.