Learning one or several foreign languages is a life goal for a large number of people. However, the number of people who achieve this goal is far lower. Why do so many people stop halfway? What makes them think that they’ll never speak a foreign language fluently, and that there is no point in trying?
Imagine how many foreign students have trouble with their grades because they don’t know English well. They have to order their papers from college essay writing services online and pay money for their homework. They might be great at mathematics, biology, psychology, economics, history, or any other discipline. But without professional writing or editing help, they get bad grades, as they make numerous grammar and spelling mistakes.
Foreign students aren’t the only category of people who suffer from a lack of linguistic knowledge. Some specialists never get promoted because they can’t communicate with foreign partners. Tourists aren’t able to talk with locals and build new connections. Book lovers don’t have the opportunity to read their favorites in the original language and get a better understanding of the writer’s style.
One way or another, we need foreign languages to make our lives fuller and to get a wider range of opportunities. The following tips and recommendations will help you to remain motivated and, finally, boost your language skills.
How to Remain Motivated While Learning a Foreign Language
Habits and rewards
Learning a foreign language requires regularity. If you study sporadically, your progress will be insignificant. Therefore, you should build a habit and practice every day or, at least, 3-4 times a week. Set a reminder on your phone or put stickers everywhere – you should remind yourself about learning a foreign language constantly.
But building a habit isn’t enough: you should reward yourself to feel better about what you do. Different types of people need different rewards: sweets, an episode of a favorite TV series, a hamburger, or 10 minutes on social media. Pick the motivation that will keep you the most encouraged.
What you love
Often, we hate the studying process because it’s associated with boredom and meltdowns. To learn a foreign language effectively, you should change your mindset. Make a list of things that you enjoy doing and imagine how you can combine them with learning. I’ll give you a few examples so that you’ll get the logic:
- Going to the gym: listen to audio books instead of music while doing exercises.
- Watching YouTube: watch podcasts from foreign bloggers.
- Playing mobile games: play the same games but change the language or install special apps for learning languages.
Realize the benefits
When you don’t understand why exactly you have to learn new things, you don’t have a chance to remain motivated for a long time. Just face it: your wish to know a foreign language isn’t enough to keep you interested for a long period of time.
Therefore, you have to make a list of practical benefits that you’ll get if you learn how to speak this language fluently. They shouldn’t be vague and general – write down how exactly your life will become better. I’ll give you a few examples, and you may continue the list by yourself:
- I’ll work and live in Paris, as I’ve always wanted.
- I’ll get a promotion if I find new customers for my company in Europe.
- I won’t get lost in Barcelona like last year.
- I’ll understand the lyrics of my favorite songs.
Being motivated is great, but, unfortunately, not enough. Motivation won’t give you much without effective learning techniques. Below, you’ll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions that come to mind when you start learning a foreign language.
- Where to start from?
Start from defining your goal. Just knowing how to speak Portuguese/Spanish/French won’t suit. You should pick narrower achievable goals to stay motivated. For example, to read “The Little Prince” in French or to memorize 500 Spanish words. The right goals will keep you interested.
- Why is this language so complex?
If you’ve decided to learn Chinese, then I have only one response – it’s really complex because this language is nothing like European languages. When you only begin your path as a language learner, I highly recommend you to pick a language that will be similar to your mother tongue. English speakers may choose Spanish or French for the beginning.
- Why can’t I memorize new words?
Perhaps, you are doing it the wrong way. If your memory skills aren’t perfect, reading new words a few times isn’t enough to memorize them. Besides, you won’t etch these words in your long-term memory in such a manner. I recommend two things.
First of all, write down the words right after you’ve learned them. That move will improve memorization.
Secondly, repeat new words the next day, in three days, in a week, and in two weeks. It seems like a lot of repetition, but don’t get scared. This technique will help you to put new words in your long-term memory and keep them there.
- Should I hire a foreign language teacher?
No doubt, a professional teacher will give you much more than books, apps, and podcasts. However, you shouldn’t spend the last of your money on private lessons. Learning a foreign language by yourself is possible. It might take more time, but it won’t cost you a fortune.
- What apps can I use for learning a foreign language?
You may find the list of the most popular applications on the internet. As a rule, they’re free to use, but you’ll have to pay for a “premium” or “pro” subscription. In my opinion, the best application to start with is Duolingo. Then, you may also try Memrise, and create the lessons that meet your requirements by yourself.
- Should I start my “vocabulary”?
This method is outdated, but you can take advantage of its more efficient and exciting equivalent. I strongly recommend you to watch your favorite TV series in a foreign language and create a short vocabulary list for each episode. But don’t write down separate words: it’s easier to memorize new words in a context.
- Is watching movies and series in a foreign language helpful?
It is definitely helpful. But there are a few nuances that you should take into consideration. Pick a movie that is relevant to your language skills. If you’re a beginner, start with simple cartoons for kids, and then move on to more difficult pieces. And don’t just watch movies with subtitles, as it won’t help you to practice your auditory skills.
- I don’t have time for learning. What can I do?
Oh, yes, you do have time. When you’re driving or taking a bus, having lunch, doing shopping, or cleaning, you still have time to learn a foreign language. You can use headphones to help you concentrate on the learning process despite background noises.
- Where can I find native speakers for practice?
You can find native speakers (in fact, you can find anyone and anything) on the internet. Social media is at your full disposal. You may also find a language partner using such services as italki.com.
- Is it better to learn a foreign language alone or in a group?
That depends only on your preferences. If you like doing things in a group, then language classes will be okay. If you hate communicating with new people, then you shouldn’t try doing the same thing in a foreign language. It’ll be even worse.
- Will reading books in a foreign language improve my skills?
Sure, it will. One of my friends has started learning French from reading the original version of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” (tough, right?). But there are a few rules that you should stick to:
– Don’t pick a book that you have trouble reading even in your native language – try something simple.
– Try the vocabulary technique that I recommended for series, but instead of episodes, you’ll have the book’s chapters.
– Pick books that are really interesting; otherwise, your motivation will disappear too soon.
- What is the easiest foreign language?
The one that you know.
- How long will it take to learn a foreign language?
It will take years. Just face it.
- Why do I keep making the same mistakes?
You’re not trying hard enough.
I’m sorry for such laconic answers, but I’m really tired of these questions. Learning a foreign language will take a while, and you won’t succeed if you don’t put enough effort. Don’t be naive: even if you’re talented and have a good memory, you can’t learn any language in a few months perfectly. So, please, stop complaining, and start learning, for goodness’ sake!