Perhaps you’ve been practicing a language for what feels like forever, but you still can’t speak fluently, master the grammar, or understand native speakers. You’re frustrated. Tired. Bored. What’s a language learner to do?
Almost everyone who has learned a language has felt a lack of motivation at some point along the way. Maybe you feel like your progress has plateaued, or you don’t feel the same joy as when you first started learning. It’s a normal part of the journey. But what can you do to get motivated again? Here are 5 super tips on how to spice up your routine and enjoy learning a language:
1.Go back to basics
If you’ve reached an intermediate or advanced level, congratulations! You’ve probably worked really hard to get to this point, and maybe you’re running out of steam. That’s okay! If the last thing you feel like doing is drilling advanced vocabulary, why not review some easy stuff? Go back to the basics and make sure you really understand beginner vocabulary and grammar. This will give you a good foundation to keep progressing and help you to refresh your memory. And, the best part, it’s easy! Before you know it, you’ll be ready for a challenge again.
2. Incorporate your interests
Are you bored with language learning? Doing hours of flashcards and grammar exercises can be quite a drag. Why not incorporate some of your other interests into your language learning routine? Watch your favorite tv show in your target language. Read an article about something you enjoy. Learn some words related to your hobbies and chat with a teacher about them. Try to learn more about the culture and interests of the people that speak the language. What do they like to do in their free time? What sports do they like? What kind of dishes are popular in their country? You could try following a recipe in your target language and try a new dish. Or try planning a trip to visit a country where the language is spoken. If you make your practice sessions fun and interesting, you might find your boredom disappears in no time.
3. Find a partner
Practicing a language by yourself can get lonely. Why not look for a learning partner? You can practice together, share your struggles and successes, and talk about why you are learning the language. A language partner can encourage you when you feel like giving up, and you’ll always have someone to practice conversation with. If you don’t know anyone who’s learning the same language as you, you can search online communities to find a language learning partner.
4. Try short sessions
Consistency is key when learning a language. But let’s face it, life can get hectic. It can be hard to buy out several hours each week to practice. And if you have a short attention span, maybe you can’t stay focused for hour long practice sessions. The solution? Try practicing a few minutes every day. Set a timer for 15 minutes, or even 5. Focus on one thing you want to learn or practice. Practicing even a little bit every day will help you to keep making steady progress, and you won’t feel as overwhelmed. Little by little, you can start increasing your practice time.
5. Reflect on your progress
Whether you’ve been learning a language for a short time or for years, no doubt you’ve made progress. Think back to when you first started learning. You didn’t know any words, and you certainly couldn’t form sentences. You’ve come so far since then. And if you keep at it, you will continue to progress and meet your goals, just as you have been doing. If you are struggling to progress and feel like you have reached a “plateau,” don’t give up! Start making a note of each small success along the way, whether it’s learning a new word, or finally feeling confident conversing with a native speaker. That way you’ll have a record to look back on when you start to get discouraged. If you have recordings of old classes, go back and watch one of your first ones. You may be surprised by how much you have improved. Reflecting on your progress and why you started this journey can help you see the bigger picture and motivate you to keep up the hard work.
Learning a language is a process, and everyone learns at a different pace. But one thing we all have in common is that at times, we start to lose our motivation or even think about giving up altogether. You’re not alone. Talk to your teacher or a friend, and ask them what helps them. Try these tips, and hopefully before you know it you will enjoy language learning again.