The desire to learn a language is the first hurdle – and not every 14 year old in French class gets over that hurdle. If you have chosen advanced Spanish in school or beginner German as an adult, you understand the appeal of languages, what they bring us and why they matter. How, though, do we keep it going?
- Picture the long-haul. Accept that learning and refining a language can be a life-long (headache) journey.
- Understand your reasons for learning. Needing a language for work or life can be motivating but also intimidating – learning out of interest has freedom in that sense, but does not give you a driving force. Work out how to push yourself or how to encourage yourself in both situations.
- Use the native speakers in your life for their expertise and to remind yourself you can still chat with them!
- Find other people who are learning the language so you can commiserate (see quote below).
- Vary the tools you use, whether it’s reading and writing (books, newspapers, flashcards) or listening and speaking (film, TV, podcasts, apps, tandem partners, Meet Ups).
- If possible, give yourself breaks – be it one day or a few.
- Immersion is valuable, but so is making the learning time count. You could watch an episode of Narcos, or spend 15 minutes making notes on a podcast or looking up words from a newspaper article.
- Make use of professionals if you can, either in a classroom or through a tutor. They can correct you, explain well, and untangle the grammar. They can also praise progress when they see it!
- Go back and reflect on the basics. If you have completed any beginner or intermediate levels, go and test yourself online and appreciate what you have mastered so far.
… [I] never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.Mark Twain, “The Awful German Language” 1880
Why are you learning your language/s? How do you find your motivation?