OK, you’ve been studying this new language for a while. At first you are very excited to get acquainted to so many new words and expressions. You go from zero to being able to sustain simple conversations and your knowledge of the language is growing exponentially. You’re highly motivated. But, as time goes by, and your progress is not so evident, this motivation starts dwindling away. You know you’ve got to do something, or disaster will strike you will stop studying for good. You wonder what you could do to rekindle your love affair with your second language. Don’t fret, I’ve got some advice for you.
Go back to square one
Remind yourself the reasons why you were so adamant to learn the language at the beginning, the plans you were making and imagining yourself competent in the language. Remember how you felt at the time. Have your circumstances changed? If not, re-commit to making your dreams and expectations come true.
Set clear goals and objectives
Go back to the drawing board and set your goals this time around. They might be different from when you started, clarify them. This will allow you to stay focussed and keep engaged with the work ahead.
Make sure that your goals are specific, measurable – set up what you intend to study -, attainable – don’t try to bite more than you can chew -, relevant – choose topics and vocabulary that you will use -, and time-bound – set deadlines-, so that you know without a shadow of a doubt when you achieve these goals.
Re-evaluate your resources
Sometimes the lack of motivation might be due to boredom. You’ve been using the same materials, you’ve outgrown them, and studying is not fun anymore. If this is your case, a change is necessary. Try to swap self-study, for example, for an in-person class where you will meet other like-minded people with the same goals as you. A bit of rivalry and certainly the support provided by teachers and peers is enough to rekindle your motivation.
Thinking of vocabulary learning and grammar as a means to an end will make the task more meaningful
Change your attitude to undesirable tasks
Not everything in language studies is elating. No one wants to memorise vocabulary and phrases lists, even less grammar. But thinking of them as a means to an end – being able to have conversations in your second language – give more value to the exercise.
Visualise the outcome you’re pursuing
When you’re doing your daily tasks, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and forget your desired outcome: get this promotion at work or studying abroad. Keeping the end-goal on site, will help you see how these undesirable tasks can help you reach your targets and will always boost your motivation especially when you think that all your efforts are pointless.
Create a schedule that helps you learn more efficiently
Take control of your time
Learn to take control of your time and create a schedule that helps you learn more efficiently. When possible, leave your language activities for the period of the day when you feel more alert, this will help you learn and memorise more easily.
Low motivation and procrastination go together. It is usually difficult in these cases to get started. One way to avoid it is by telling yourself that you will only do a language activity for five or ten minutes. Most of the time it will end up being thirty minutes to one hour. Once you’re fully committed to the activity, time will fly.
Learn from failure
No matter how well you prepare your daily and weekly activities, there will be times where you will be unable to do the task at hand for whatever unforeseen circumstances. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Don’t consider it as a failure. You must reschedule and carry on.
Measure your progress
Document your progress and keep track of your achievements and successes daily. An excellent way to do so is by keeping a dairy. This can motivate you next time you need some extra boost.
Positive thinking is powerful. Just telling yourself that you can do it is often all you need to start. Keep a vision board of your goals close by as a constant reminder of your ‘why’.
Just telling yourself that you can do it is often all that you need.
Surround yourself with positive people
Belonging to language groups where you can find support and ways to practice the language is an excellent option as well as having language buddies to keep you accountable and give you feedback.
Let the negative outcome work for you
When demotivated, scare yourself with the negative consequences of not knowing your second language – not being able to get the work promotion, not doing that master’s degree in a foreign country, all the opportunities you will miss. This will catapult you into studying.
Reward yourself at the end of each week for keeping with the pre-established schedule, for example going out with friends to a café, watch a movie, a bit of pampering, whatever tick your fancy.
There will be time when you will feel like quitting for various reasons, but don’t give up. Like with the five-minute tip, tell yourself just one more day, each day, and six months down the line you will look back proud of your achievement.
You can do it!
How do you keep motivated? Comment below.