Motivation is the engine of language learning. It ensures that you make progress and eventually reach your goals. In short: motivation is the most important part in your learning process.
Why motivation is essential for language learning
You have certainly learned something new and then had phases in which you would have liked to give up. That is completely normal. But when you learn a foreign language, you need not only discipline (to get through such difficult times), but also a lot of motivation. However, it is important that you distinguish between two basic types:
motivation from outside
External motivation – also known as extrinsic motivation – describes everything that is in your environment and has a positive effect on you and your learning behaviour. For example, this could be praise from someone you like, or feedback from your language teacher and partner. But fear (e.g., of a bad exam result) can also ensure that you are motivated to follow your study plan.
motivation from within
The situation is different with motivation from within, the so-called intrinsic motivation. You alone are responsible for this, because it comes from within you and is strengthened by your own interests and reasons. So the greater your interest, the easier it will be for you to deal with it. For example, when you learn Spanish, you feel intrinsic motivation because you like the sound of the language—not because you want to get good grades in school or impress your boss.
But don’t forget: Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation play an important role in language learning. Because only in the combination of both will you be able to make progress and not lose the fun in learning.
6 tips to keep you motivated while learning a language
Being motivated is easier said than done. But don’t worry, because there are always tips that will help you and provide you with the necessary energy.
1. Keep your goal in mind.
As soon as you start learning a foreign language, you will also have a goal in mind. In order not to lose motivation here in the long term, it helps to always keep this goal in mind. For example, you can design a vision board, formulate a manifesto or change the background on your smartphone. In this way you will always be reminded to do something for your success.
2. Use habits.
Habits are worth their weight in gold, especially in the beginning. They support you in dealing with your learning language on a regular basis and in getting used to learning according to the following motto: Better a little every day than several hours once a week.
Your daily task can also only take a few minutes. This way, you make sure that you can accommodate them even on stressful days and that learning doesn’t fall by the wayside. Do you need examples of such daily tasks that can be established as a habit? No problem, here is a list:
- repeat vocabulary
- read a few pages in a book
- watch a video
- send a message to your language partner
- listen to music
- listen to a podcast or audio book
3. Learn with others!
If you always learn alone, you will lose interest in the long run. So, look for a study group or network with other learners via social media and learn together. This way you can help each other if there is something unclear and encourage each other if someone has a little slack.
4. Change little things in your learning process.
As soon as you notice that your motivation is decreasing day by day and you have to pull yourself together to learn, you need to change something in your learning process. For example, you can change the learning location by taking your material with you to the kitchen, to the park or to a café. Or you try a new learning method or simply study in the morning instead of in the evening. Such small changes work wonders and you will be motivated again in no time to master the next hurdle.
5. Reward yourself
Learning means achieving big and small goals and these must also be rewarded. For example, treat yourself to a piece of cake, a new book or even a trip to the cinema with friends to show yourself how proud you are of yourself. But not only the reward itself increases your motivation, but also the prospect of it.
6. Reflect and adapt.
There are always good and bad days. The art of learning is that you don’t let it get you down and that you keep going full of motivation even after miserable days. In order to take something away from such experiences, you should regularly reflect on your learning behaviour and adjust it if necessary. This ensures that you are motivated to pursue your goals in the future and do not bury your head in the sand prematurely.
Motivation in language learning – what you should do now
Motivation manifests itself in different ways for everyone. Nevertheless, it helps, especially at the beginning, to talk to others – for example in the app Sabelovu – about the topic of motivation and to define what extrinsic and intrinsic motivation mean to you. This is the only way to get clarity about which tips you should use to stay motivated in the long run.
What do you do to motivate you to learn a language?