When we talk about learning a foreign language, we often talk about different methods, if you should go to school or not and how much time is ideal to spend on the target language each day. Of course, those are interesting questions to ask, but I think they’re not as important as one thing: motivation.
We all look for ways to improve our language learning, but often forget that all important thing called motivation. We try to motivate ourselves for many things, but somehow we only look at methods when learning a foreign language.
Woody Allen once said:
“80% of success is showing up.”
Now, that is an interesting quote, but what do I want to tell with it? It’s really simple actually.
When you’re not motivated, you won’t show up to learn your target language (or anything else in fact). Unfortunately, it’s not possible to learn a language through osmosis, you need to work, you need to show up.
That’s why I think being motivated is the most important thing in language learning. It’s possible to learn many things in a short amount of time, but to truly learn a language to fluency you need years of input, study and practice.
Ask yourself: Why do I want to learn this language? Can I actually use it? Are there enough materials to learn it from? Am I sure I still want to be learning this language three years from now? If your answer to those questions is yes, you’re probably enough motivated to go on and learn that language you want to learn.
Still, take your time to decide which language you want to learn. Make a plan to learn it, don’t you just rush in with a dream of ‘speaking it one day’. That won’t get you motivated as it isn’t a realistic goal without thinking about the steps between.
Now, why do you need to have a strong motivation to learn a foreign language? Simply because it isn’t an easy task. Like I said: it will take several years to become fluent, and several years more to completely master it. This isn’t something you just do, you need to have a dream, a goal to work towards.
If you don’t set yourself goals you’ll just fail. And that’s not just the case with language study. In any field of study you need to have a goal, otherwise you’ll just give up and look for something else to do.
The title of this article isn’t entirely true. It isn’t that motivation is all that matters, but I do think that it makes up about 80% of your progress in your target language.
Methods, schools and the amount of time you put in all matter, but it’s the motivation that can make or break your study. When all things fail, you need at least your motivation to get you through and continue learning.
Are you currently learning a language? If so, I’ll give you some ‘homework’. Think about why you’re learning the language you’re currently learning. Is it because you’re in school that you have to learn it? Maybe you’ve chosen to study it, but are you still happy with your decision?
What are your long-term goals regarding your target language? Are you having fun learning it, or do you just see it as a daily chore? Sometimes it’s not a shame to quit studying a language. If you’re not enjoying it and have no real motivation learning it, you’re better off investing your time in another language.
So investigate if your target language is really worth. If it is, think of things why you think it’s worth the time and effort and put that on a paper. Then, hang that paper in a place you can see it easily, that’s it’s impossible to not see it. This way you’ll remind yourself of your goals every day, and why you should continue learning this cool language.
Good luck and happy learning!
Ramses Oudt is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain and a Spanish major who writes about learning Spanish on your own through immersion at his blog Spanish-Only.com. Although he has a passion for Spanish, he also writes about language learning in general both at Twitter (@spanishonly) and his blog. Don't Forget To Follow PickTheBrain on Twitter! Related Articles: Why Great People Never Stop Learning Free Audio Books