Motivation to Learn a Language 💪 A Guide to Staying Strong

Motivation to Learn a Language 🙌 The Tips You Need To Know

Questions we hear a lot from students looking for motivation to learn a new language…

The truth is that these are all successful strategies, but they fall short of helping you stay motivated in the long run.

And learning a new language takes a very long run.

Before you look into what activities you pursue or how you practice if you want to reach fluency, you need to look inward. There, you’ll find the key to staying motivated from your first lesson to the intermediate language plateau all the way to fluency.

How you stay motivated when learning a new language has less to do with tactics and more to do with the type of learner you are.

Why You Need to Think About Language Learning Differently

What Is an Active Learner?

The Brain Works Differently When You’re Interested

How Do You Stay Motivated?

What Characteristics Define Active Learners?

How to Stay Motivated During Your Language Learning Journey?

Motivation to Learn a Language – Why You Need to Think About Language Learning Differently

Many people have a bit of PTSD with language learning. Xenoglossophobia defines the anxiety centred around foreign language learning.

Most of this is a result of tedious, life-draining language classes we were forced to sign up for in high school.

Many often struggle through those classes as they attempt to do what is necessary to pass so that they can graduate.

The result is an inadequate approach to language learning that focuses drilling, cramming, and testing.

Along the way, you lose motivation and forget to immerse yourself in a journey to discovering a new culture and way of thinking made possible by learning a new language.

Private Chinese class in a coffee shop in Chengde
Immersion is key to learning a language

If you want to stay motivated while learning a new language, then you have to change your approach.

Instead of passively moving through lesson after lesson, practice after practice, going through the motions, you need to grab language learning by the reigns.

You need to become an active learner more than anything else.

Motivation to Learn a Language – What Is an Active Learner?

There are two types of learners, active and passive learners.

The majority of people are passive learners. It’s a result of being “forced” to do something. You show up. Sit down.

You go through the motions until the bell rings. Passive learners pick up skills and knowledge along the way, but they often don’t feel like they learn much from the educational experience.

Motivation when learning a language - Get out there, be active
Motivation when learning a language – Get out there, be active

When motivation is at an all time low. You only do what’s necessary, nothing more, nothing less.

Active learners take a different approach.

Active learners want to learn. They need to learn.

When you put an active learner in a situation, that person will readily dive into the material, tear it apart, and begin applying it. Active learners don’t pay attention to the clock. In fact, they work against it.

Motivation happens naturally with active learners. It’s part of their mindset. Their goal isn’t to merely survive the day, but to try and accomplish as much as possible.

They learn for the sake of learning and want to learn more. And it’s this approach to language learning yields the best results.

Business Trip to China - Martin's Story Thumbnail

Business Trip to China – Martin’s Story

Martin does Beijing – Business Trip to China In the Autumn of 2019 we were lucky enough to host Martin Reynolds from the UK for two weeks. He was a pleasure to have around the school and thoroughly enjoyed his…

Motivation to Learn a Language – The Brain Works Differently When You’re Interested

Every day, you’re exposed to a near infinite amount of stimuli. Don’t believe me?

Next time you’re standing at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green, pause and look around you.

You’ll notice buildings, trees, signs, each car that’s waiting to move forward.

And that’s only in the 100 feet surrounding you. Every day, you’re constantly bombarded with information. Your brain has to learn how to filter it out. Otherwise, your mind would implode.

Only when you’re actively engaged in what you’re doing can you turn on all senses and attempt to register the full experience. This often happens when we are doing things we enjoy.

Similar Chinese Characters 🤷🏽‍♀️ The Ones You Must Know (Plus FREE Quiz) Thumbnail

Similar Chinese Characters 🤷🏽‍♀️ The Ones You Must Know (Plus FREE Quiz)

Chinese Characters That Look The Same 😲 Our Guide to The Characters You Have To Get Right Can you tell them apart? Chinese Characters that look the same There’s a lot of Chinese characters in total! How many Chinese characters?…

Games, movies, dinners with friends. We are fully involved in these moments.

They pass by so fast we often wonder where the time went.

Your goal should be to try and treat learning a foreign language with as much enthusiasm as other captivating moments in your life.

The more you want to learn, the more successful you will be. And your success and attitude will feed into itself, help you stay motivated.

Motivation to Learn a Language – How Do You Stay Motivated?

The million dollar question. How to stay motivated when learning a language!

At first, learning a foreign language seems nearly impossible. There are so many different parts of a language.

Rianne and her teacher Jacqueline
Rianne and her teacher Jacqueline

Juggling them all and trying to get them to stick into your mind can feel overwhelming. And often, it seems like you forget lessons as fast as you learn them.

Over time, that can weaken anyone’s motivation. To solve this, you have to change your mindset.

People are often motivated to learn a second language for the wrong reasons. They do it because it’s a requirement or because they want to impress other people.

There’s an outside influence forcing them into practice. But that’s not how you stay motivated. With that mindset you end up feeling forced. And you push back. Always.

Instead, adopt the mindset of an active learner and alter your perception of language learning. Pursue fluency because you are thirsty for more knowledge. Study your target language because you want and need to be lost in it.

Motivation to Learn a Language – What Characteristics Define Active Learners?

Because active learners want to learn, they’re motivated to find strategies that make them more effective.

They push hard to reach their goals.

Having the right motivation may be the foundation of being an active learner, but it’s not the only trait.

Check out LTL student Fabian who is the classic example of an active learner, he came to LTL and get stuck right into Chinese culture.

Here are a few other characteristics that make up active learners:

  • Independence: They don’t wait for others. They learn on their own and seek out help when they need it.
  • Curiosity: They find answers. They are drawn towards what they don’t know, shedding light into the unknown.
  • Focus: They don’t let distractions pull them away from what they’re studying. They aren’t afraid to shut out the world for a while and immerse themselves.
  • Drive: They want to be successful. They know the time and energy it takes to accomplish this. They believe the trade-off is worth it.
  • Self-Reflective: They’re constantly evaluating their learning strategies, trying out new ones and dropping ineffective ones.
  • Enthusiasm: They don’t have to be dragged into studying. They actively seek it out. They enjoy it.
  • Awareness: They don’t passively drift through a subject. Instead, they focus on the experience. They notice details and incorporate them to promote learning.
Chinese Menus Explained 🍜 How to Read a Chinese Menu + The Complete Cheat Sheet Thumbnail

Chinese Menus Explained 🍜 How to Read a Chinese Menu + The Complete Cheat Sheet

Chinese Menus. How to read them, how to decode them? Not so easy right? Well with our FREE Chinese Menu cheat sheet and tips, you’ll have no problems!

How to Stay Motivated During Your Language Learning Journey?

Justus and friends at LTL Beijing

At the heart of every active learner is the understanding that learning is a journey.

When they set their minds to learn anything, they do so because they know that the experience is what matters.

It isn’t about reaching the final destination. It’s about each step along the way.

As a result, active learners don’t need to ask “how to stay motivated” on their path.

They simply strap in and set off towards the horizon. As they make progress, they reflect and adapt.

Each success pushes them forward and motivation happens naturally.

Thanks very much to Entrepreneur and Linguist, Jonty Yamisha (founder of OptiLingo) for his guest blog post here.

Using scientifically proven strategies such as Spaced Repetition and Guided Immersion, OptilLingo has helped thousands finally achieve fluency.

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  • LTL Avatar Irene Magnosi
    Irene Magnosi , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Mandarin School!

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