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Keeping Yourself Motivated

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Many who study languages (or whatever subject it may be), experience ups and downs when it comes to motivation. One of the keys to learning a language however, is to always keep at it, to do something every day (no matter how small it may be). This will be an inspirational page where everyone can add their ideas for keeping that crucial motivation up.


Why do you study your language? Edit

There are many reasons for which people choose to study languages.


  • Out of sheer interest in the language, let's call it passion.
  • From necessity; you live in the country of your target language.
  • For something job and/or education related.
  • Other.


When you lack any kind of motivation to continue with your language, go back a couple of steps and think about the why?. Is it because you really love your language? Let's hope so. If you love it, think about what makes you love it, why you got interested in it to begin with, and think about what your goal is.


Motivation can easily get somewhat diminished when we experience no improvement. In the beginning, you learn a lot of new things all the time and progress can be fast. After some time though, it may seem like you are trodding on the same spot for months. Is your goal to speak with people? Then do so, only practise makes perfect, and no one expects you to be perfect at the beginning. Is your goal to read books? Then read and read and read. In these stages, progress may be less evident, but all of a sudden you will come to the realisation, "I couldn't do this two months ago!". The key is to always keep at it. Don't give up just because you didn't reach fluency in two years.


Remember that the fun is in the learning.


Some tips and ideas Edit

  • Discipline. After all, it does come down to this. Not everyone is naturally self-disciplined, not everyone can spend five hours every day studying. However, it is something that can be built up. You can become self-disciplined. Set up goals to study X minutes/hours a day and don't get over-enthusiastic at first if you are a true slacker. As you get used to your daily routine, start increasing it. Soon you will hopefully not be able to skip your learning session without feeling bad and that alone can be your motivation. Create your own language conscience. It may sound crude, but for some it works.
  • Variation is essential to most people, and you need to do different things to cover the different aspects of your language. Unless you follow a language course to the point and use nothing else, try working with the following:
    • Read stories or articles. Think about what kind of language you want to read. Modern journalism from newspapers? Modern literature? Old literature? Try to find a balance. You don't want your first book to be too long or too difficult, but it also shouldn't be boring for you. Harry Potter and other young adult literature is a popular choice, and some classic authors are also known for their simple style. See this thread for more ideas.
    • Write essays. But do make sure someone corrects them as well! This is a great way to write thought through things, to force yourself to look up sentence constructions, to really think. It is, of course, easier if you have someone who gives you a subject and a deadline.
    • Listen to songs. Get a hold of as much music as you can in your target language and listen through it all. You must find some songs you really like. When you really like what you are listening to, you are more likely to pay attention to it.
    • Listen to the radio when you are doing other things. Cleaning the apartment on a Sunday? Why not also listen to some Turkish radio while doing it?
    • Movies. When motivation is really low, most can still manage to watch a movie in the target language, or why not any movie but with subtitles in your target language?
    • Translations. To translate, and have someone check your translation, is a great way of seeing how well you really understand your language and its different aspects.
    • Learn vocabulary. Use flashcard software or make your own flash cards use word lists, make vocabulary mind maps. If you have an artistic touch, why not use this to make vocabulary acquisition more interesting? Draw graffiti in your target language or whatever pleases you.
    • Peruse grammar books. Some of us just love it, and there's no shame in admitting it. Do indulge in those grammar books.
    • Try some new method. There's plenty of them around. Listening-Reading Method for example. Just browse this Wikia some!


When one thinks about it, there's so many different things to do with a language that it's a wonder one can still get bored with it. But if one does, then what?

Other solutions Edit

Always keep track of your progress. Set short term goals and a deadline for each of them. Then do a big red mark in your calendar and do everything you can to make it on time. You can also mark each day you do something (anything!) in terms of learning your target language or assign yourself points or stars for certain activities. You could note down the exact time you spend on doing specific type of practice.

When it is really that bad, then perhaps a small break is in order. Are you only studying one language? Then perhaps looking at another one could be fun. Let's say that you study Spanish, why not take a look at something different like Croatian? Some experience that their previous language was more fun and easier and that can be enough to get you back on track. And yet again, if you have just had an overload of Spanish, then some relaxation with Croatian will keep you on track (study wise) while letting you breathe some.

Use other peopleEdit

Feeling like you are not progressing? Or in need of other ideas? Or in any other motivation trouble?

Sometimes all you need is a good advice, a bit of cheering up or admiration concerning the skills you have already got. Of course, you usully need other people as a source of these motivation pills.

For such purposes, people can be divided into three main cateegories.

Those that do not care at allEdit

The easiest group. Why should you care about them as well? :-)

The supportive onesEdit

It is great when your family or friends is supportive to you whether it comes to languages or just anything and everything you do. But it is not always the case. If you feel you could do with some more support and understanding, the internet can be a miracle for you, just as for many others (including the person who's writing this paragraph right now).

There are many language blogs and communities, and most importantly the HTLAL forums


One of the best parts of the forum are the HTLAL learning logs. Reading about other people's motivation and progress is a good way to get your own back! And if you start your own, you can get a lot of personalized advice and support on one place.

The actively non-supportive onesEdit

Many learners have learnt the simple truth that there are people with which it is the easiest to not speak about language learning. Situations like: "Why are you learning it when anyone speaks English anyways? And it is a worthless language. And why don't you choose football as a hobby instead?" are certainly not helpful. So, choosing not to tell someone is often an option, unless you know you are sure not to care about the reactions.

It is more difficult when those situations are likely to arise at home. This tends to be more of a trouble for younger learners, who cannot just move out yet and who are expected to respect and obey their parents' views to varying extent but it is surely not limited to them. Fortunately, there have been success stories of learners who one day impressed their close ones by the skills and it can be your story as well. The negative views are likely to change once you shine on your holiday in Italy or you get a good job thanks to being fluent in German and Finnish.

Until then, you have two choices. Either suffer through it because you are strong and not ashamed of having such a hobby. Or you prefer to hide your books behind others in the bookshelf when not used and to do speaking exersices when noone is at home because it feel so great to do something secret and forbidden :-) (Some people hide weed in their rooms, why couldn't you hide books).

Do whatever you need and want. In any case, you will find your supportive language soulmates on HTLAL.

Another common phenomenon attacking motivation is called language banditry and it is quite often discussed not only on HTLAL.

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