My thoughts on how to get motivated to learn a language

In the language learning blogosphere there are plenty of articles about how to get motivated to learn a language.

I’ve actually read an interesting point about motivation. It basically said that motivation is a fickle thing and you shouldn’t rely on it. Instead rely on discipline. In other words just get on with it.

Personally I would say that motivation and discipline are connected. If you are disciplined enough to learn for a few weeks you will see results which in turn will motivate you to keep going. In other words if you are not motivated from the get-go, try discipline first and later you will be motivated enough to keep learning.

Apart from this I’d say have a system in place to track your success objectively. This is why on Antosch & Lin we have progress tests which can be done on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. These multiple choice tests take around 20 to 30 minutes. The final scores are shown on a line chart, so it’s easy to see whether you are improving. And if you see some progress every month it will give you the necessary boost to keep going.

A few days ago I listened to Chris Broholm’s podcast (with Anthony Lauder). The point they made is that progress is so gradual that it seems you are standing still, but you actually are progressing, it just happens so slowly that you don’t realise it.

Another good strategy is to read books about something that interests you. If you like “Lord of the Rings” for instance read it in your language you are learning.

Personally I read a lot of detective and crime books to learn English when I grew up in Germany in the 80s. I especially liked books from the Canadian author Margaret Millar. Her books often have a twist ending. Think “The Sixth Sense”, but in book form. One really good book from her is “How Like an Angel” which I read a few times.

I also learnt English by watching a lot of Hollywood movies with subtitles. In Germany movies are dubbed into German, so it was really hard to get your hands on these films. These days we have the Internet and things are much easier of course.

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