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How to make myself study or The importance of motivation

How to make myself study or The importance of motivation

Like in many other things, motivation is very important in the study of foreign languages. I'm not afraid to even say that it is the most important factor. No talent for learning languages, you say? Yes, someone has a little more ability in learning languages, others may have less, but the whole idea that the lack of talent means that you can not learn a language is fundamentally untrue (later I will talk in detail about this and other myths associated with the study of languages). No time, you say? Most likely, you simply do not want or did not try to find it and allocate it for learning a language. Tried to learn and did not work? It is very likely that the chosen method just did not fit you. If there is motivation - there will be time, and a suitable way - and even abilities.

Of course, motivation is not the only necessary factor for learning a foreign language. If you just - even sufficiently motivated - sit and want to learn the language, nothing will happen. It is necessary to act and act actively. But the fact is that there will be fewer and fewer excuses, apart from the lack of motivation. So many resources are available now that it becomes difficult not to find a resource for learning, but to choose the right one for yourself (I will speak about this later, too). The fact that you have no time or abilities is, as I said, a myth. It can be more difficult with finding motivation, especially when initially you did not want to learn a foreign language, but someone told you that you have to.

So how do you make yourself to force yourself? If you missed the post Why should I learn English or any other foreign language?, then go back to it and read it, it is largely related to motivation. Many people - for example, at school - learn a foreign language under compulsion, because it is "necessary", because "my mother said so", because "well, it seems like English is an international language, you have to learn it" and so on. Under compulsion, learning a language is very hard, this "you have to" hangs over you like a sword of Damocles and does not add to the joy of learning. Often, if you answer the question "Why should I do this?" and find a reason for learning the language, it will be much easier. And the answer "I have to" is not accepted. At least, try to understand, why it is necessary - and necessary for you, not for your mother, school-work or the world community.

But sometimes, even if you decide why you need it, and find some good reasons for learning a foreign language, there is not enough of that everyday motivation. You generally know that you need the language, and it may even be of great interest to you, but today you are too lazy to do your homework assigned by the teacher, or open an application for learning languages. Or you are tired. Or you have too much to do. It happens, it's normal, but if there are many more of such days than the days when you want to practice a foreign language, then maybe you need to change something.

I will say right away what you shouldn’t do. Do not criticize yourself. "Now, I'm such a lazy ass, I have not done my exercises again, I'm a loser, I will never learn a foreign language." If you regularly think this way, then you will have a feeling of guilt and unpleasant emotions connected with the language, which do not contribute to its successful studying at all. Remember the formula mentioned in the previous post "a bad association with a foreign language is bad"? It is primitive, but true. If you begin to associate a foreign language with a sense of guilt, you will begin to put off activities more and more often, feel more guilty - until you drop language learning completely. It does not sound very optimistic, does it? Try to avoid it.

So, what should you do, when inner motivation - your desire and need to learn a foreign language - is not enough? It can help - and finally make you open an application or do the homework – if you add external motivation. In this case, under external motivation, I mean various external stimuli that may not be strongly related to your need to learn the language and even, perhaps, the language itself, which, however, give you additional motivation for learning. I will list only a few possible incentives. This list is far from exhaustive, but using examples from it you can find your additional motivation.

Financial motivation

Somewhere on the Internet there is a site for people who want to lose weight (unfortunately, I can not find the exact link right now). On this site, you set yourself the goal, how many kilos you want to lose over a certain period. And then you transfer some amount of money to the site - I do not remember how much, but some not very scary, but not the smallest amount. If the person has managed to achieve his goal, then this money is returned to them. If they did not, then, accordingly, no (though, this money goes to charity, which in itself is also not bad). Why am I talking about this? The fact is that for some people finance can be a very good motivator. The options here can be different. I have not yet met a site for studying languages similar to the site I mentioned, but you can do something like that yourself: put aside some amount of money or give it to a reliable person and if you achieve your goal (for example, to reach the next level of the language in a certain period of time), then keep this amount to yourself and maybe spend on something pleasant, and if you do not achieve your goal, then, for example, give this amount to charity or spend on something nice, but not for yourself - for someone else. But you do not have to arrange such “entertainment” for yourself. You can just ... pay for learning! Some people are much less inclined to skip classes if they paid for them themselves, rather than, say, the company in which they work. If you have a feeling that this is about you, or you tried free classes or resources and it "did not work," then perhaps from different ways and methods of learning the language you should pay attention to the paid ones.
 
Consumer (material) motivation
This word often has some negative connotation, but I do not mean it at all - I just can not find a better word. This incentive is quite simple: encourage yourself to succeed in learning a language by buying something delicious (but be careful, because you need to watch the figure too) or pleasant. However, don’t go overboard. Do not eat a whole cake or buy yourself a fur coat, just after doing one homework or watching one video lesson. But you can eat the same cake, having successfully passed one level, buy a fur coat for two or three levels, and after passing the exam for the certificate of the level of knowledge of this language - go on a trip! (Eh, dreams, dreams ...) In this situation, everything depends on what can motivate you, and on your financial capabilities. The main thing is to set a goal in advance in order to know what you are trying to achieve. To me, this motivation sometimes helps in work. I earn money by doing translations and when I undertake a very long and complicated translation, I promise myself that from the money I get for it I'll buy myself something I love (often not that necessary, but very pleasant). For example, after one of the last translations, I bought myself a pair of good sketch books - notepads for drawing. I already had something to draw on, but these notebooks are especially beautiful. What kind of goodies and pleasantries can motivate you?
 
Entertainment motivation
I do not have a TV, but I watch a lot of YouTube. It can be an excellent resource for learning foreign languages, but I mostly watch various entertaining and humorous videos. In this or similar case, you can do things in different ways. You can make it your habit to start watching the video only after you practice a foreign language. This technique works with other types of entertainment. And you can also watch videos in a foreign language - and not necessarily educational. If you study a fairly common language (English, Spanish, French, Chinese ...), then in this language on YouTube there is a large number of humorous, entertaining or informative channels with quality content. This also applies to movies and TV shows - why not watch the next episode in the language you are learning?
 
Visual motivation
There are many sites and applications that allow you to monitor different habits - let's say, how many times a week you train or how much water you drink per day. You do not need to download such an application, you can just draw a similar calendar for tracking habits on any piece of paper (but it's better, for example, to do it somewhere in your diary, so as not to lose it). It's simple. Set a goal, say, to practice a foreign language three times a week (I'll tell you in one of the future posts about how many times a week and how long you should practice). Draw a calendar for tracking habits and mark in it those days when you practice. If you do not want to draw, then use an application for your phone. One of the best that I really liked was Habit Bull. This application has a paid version, but the free one is enough to track one habit - regular foreign language classes. It's simple, but it works. When you clearly see how often you practice, how often you don’t, when you practiced for the last time, this motivates. This is most likely not a universal motivation either - individual features of the human psyche are unpredictable - but at one time it helped me very much, and I know many other people who use it successfully.
 
Showing off
Perhaps not the best motivator, but ... Sometimes, any means are good. If you are motivated by the fact that one day you will be able to brag about speaking fluently in Hungarian, well, let it motivate you. However, this should not be the only reason you are learning a language, and your only motivation. Dreaming about showing off in the future, you will not go far in learning a foreign language.
I would like to note that I do not claim that any motivation is good. But sometimes, almost any additional motivation helps out in difficult moments. That is, if you are not interested in learning a foreign language and / or you have strong negative associations with it, then no goodies, pleasures, money (well, a million dollars, maybe ...) or desire to show off will not motivate you to learn the language regularly and for a long time. But if you are interested in learning the language, you like it, but today you are just a little more lazy than usual, then, for example, the promise of a slice of cake looming on the horizon or losing money can help to fight this laziness and start studying.
 
P. S.: You can also watch a video about motivation and language learning on my channel on YouTube.
 
ASSIGNMENT:
 
1. What do you think (or, perhaps, you know from your own experience), do you need additional motivation? Which of the suggested motivators are most suitable for you?
 
2. Choose the motivation that suits you and write down the details (you can do it in your head, but it is better if it’s visual, on paper). If you chose a financial one, write down how much money you will put aside, what is the criterion of success (reaching a certain level, passing an exam) and what you will do with this money if you are successful or unsuccessful. If you chose visual - draw a calendar of tracking habits (or download an application) and determine how often you will practice. And so on. If you really intend to learn a foreign language and you may need additional motivation - do it right now.
 
Russian version here.

Three main reasons why you can’t learn a foreign language

Do you want me to tell you why you are already X years old, but you still can not learn a foreign language? You don't ? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It will be unpleasant and painful, but at least it'll be free, without registration and SMS.
 
The main idea is: it is all your fault. So if you tend to blame your failure in learning a language on someone or something else - teachers, government, astrologers, lack of time, the stars - you will not make any progress until you start changing this perception. However, I'll talk about this later.
 
So, the first reason is: you are a LAZY ASS.
When speaking about studying foreign languages, many people give many excuses for their failure: I do not have the time, I do not have the talent, I do not have the money, I have tried and failed, I'm too old for this shit, it's impossible to learn a language without living in a country where it's spoken, , etc, etc. They repeat these words as a mantra, until they fervently believe in them themselves. But behind most of these statements there lies simple laziness. Yes, studying a foreign language is not always easy, but it does not require you to make some kind of superhuman effort. But to do this it will be necessary to tear your ass off the couch, or whatever it is that it is glued to, and - OMG, so scary - begin to do something. And sometimes you do not even need to tear your ass off the couch. Some other time (if I'm not too lazy, lol))), I'll tell you about all these excuses in detail, but now I will give you just one small example. "I do not have time to learn a foreign language," you say. And now think and tell me, can you find 5 minutes a day? If your answer is "no", then, most likely, you are lying - and do not really want to learn a foreign language. Or it is your laziness speaking. You have to fight it. Or try to compromise. The good news is that you can really start small - from 5 minutes, if we are talking about time - which requires not much effort and you do not need to turn your life upside down. (Here is some advice on how to find time for learning English - or another foreign language) The bad news is that you at least have to do something, that's the horror, you still have to. I will speak about this in more detail in some other publication.
 
The second reason: you have PROBLEMS WITH MOTIVATION.
Why do perverts like me study foreign languages by themselves with pleasure and this seems to come to them so easily? Well, firstly, it's not as easy as it seems. And secondly, they - we - like it. I "easily" and with pleasure study foreign languages ​​not because I have some special talents or super-intelligence. I just enjoy it. Someone can spend hours in the garden, or playing with children, watch TV shows, go shopping, read books. For entertainment, I do language exercises in the Duolingo application, and when I'm completely bored, I sometimes start learning some new language simply because I can. I have a strong inner motivation. But not everyone is so lucky. Or "lucky." Someone, say, has to learn a language for work, but does not really want to. Is this person doomed to suffer? Not at all: additional motivation can be found-dash-created. Perhaps not as strong as that of crazy linguists and polyglots, but it is sufficient to facilitate learning a foreign language, and perhaps even make this process very exciting.
 
"But what should I do if I am a MOTIVATED, NOT LAZY ASS, but I still can not learn a foreign language?" you may ask, and I will answer that the third reason may be to blame: WRONG IDEAS in your head. Many of the excuses mentioned by me above also apply to such negative ideas and perceptions (and in general, the division into three reasons is somewhat arbitrary, they usually act together and are interconnected with one another), for example, "it is easy to learn a foreign language only for children," "foreign languages ​​are difficult "or" learning a foreign language is expensive. " Such attitudes sometimes settle so firmly in one's head that the person does not even make any attempts to do something - not necessarily because they are lazy (although, most likely, that it true, too)), but because they are absolutely sure that studying a language for them is bound to fail, so why waste the effort?! It can be difficult to fight such ideas in one's mind  - depending on when, by whom and how firmly they were planted in the person's head - but this is possible. If you know that you have such negative ideas, that they create problems for you and you are ready to fight them (I actually know a person with the firmest belief "I can never learn English, it's impossible", who stubbornly does not want to listen to me and understand that it's just an idea in her head) - it is already the beginning. And if you are also really motivated, not a lazy ass, then as soon as you start fighting with the negative ideas you found, you will immediately start making progress! 🙂
 
And that's probably all I want to tell you today. But I can say much more! And I can answer your questions. That is why please ask me about what interests you, write comments - I have many plans for what I will write about in this blog, but I'll be glad to start with what my readers are interested in ^ _ ^
 
Russian version here.

Why should I learn English or any other foreign language?

Please do not answer the question "why?" with "because it's necessary". Necessary to whom? For what? Let's figure it out.
 
For some people it is completely objectively "necessary", even if they do not really want to learn a foreign language. It is often connected with their studies (for example, they need this foreign language to enter a university) or with work (in some foreign companies or companies working with foreign ones, knowledge of a foreign language is not only desirable, but is a necessary requirement for candidates for some jobs). What can you do in this case? First, try not to see this as a tragedy. Learning a foreign language is not the worst thing that can happen in your life, and in the future the language will be of much use if you approach the matter correctly. Secondly, find for yourself an additional motivation. Later in this chapter, I will talk about different reasons for learning a foreign language - maybe you did not even know about or did not think about any of them, and they may well suit you. And in future publications I will also talk about how to constantly motivate yourself in the learning process and how to facilitate the learning process of a foreign language in many ways.
So, let's move on to the reasons. They differ in their strength and in their prevalence, but I decided to include them all to give you a more complete picture, and also, perhaps, to help you get some ideas of your own.
 
For learning
No, I'm not repeating myself. A foreign language can be useful in learning not only as an exam to be passed upon admission to university, or a subject that is just there in the curriculum. A foreign language can be very useful in further training or advanced training. Not all materials, courses and programs, resources may be translated into your native language. After learning a foreign language, you get access to a huge layer of information that was not available to you before. This applies, of course, to a greater degree to English - for example, more than 80% of all information on the Internet is stored in English and 85% of scientific works are published in it today - but this is also true for other languages.
 
For work
You can learn a foreign language for work not only because the boss told you to. Think about your profession and your possible career prospects. There are many companies where knowledge of a foreign language is desirable or even mandatory for employees. Studying a foreign language, you invest into your future career. In addition, knowledge of a foreign language may be needed not so much for a particular company but for the profession itself. I have many acquaintances working in the IT sphere, and most of them need English, to some extent. So if you also work (or plan to work) in this sphere - it's time to take up English.
 
For a hobby
In its main point this reason is close to the two previous ones. Having learned a foreign language you will be able to access information related not only to your studies or work, but also to your hobbies. For example, when I first started to take a great interest in photography, I read books and watched video lessons not only in Russian, but also in English. Not because English-language materials were better, but because they represent a slightly different approach, a different point of view on some things. Of course, some things can be found in Russian translation, but not all, besides, some nuances and detailes may be lost in translation (this is even more important for the section "For culture" below).
 
For traveling
I work as an English teacher and I often ask my new students why they want to learn this language. Guess which of the reasons appears among the most frequent? I think you guessed it right. Yes, of course, in many situations you can make gestures, poke a finger at something (for example, when choosing a dish in a restaurant menu), use a dictionary, a phrase book or Google Translate. And what if there is no dictionary at hand, gestures do not help, and the dishes in the menu look unrecognizable? Of course, I am exaggerating slightly, but knowledge of a foreign language, even at a basic level, can significantly increase the quality and effectiveness of your communication. The language can be especially useful if you like to visit not only tourist places, but also, for example, various small towns and villages where there are no guides speaking your native language (in many popular tourist places you can find guides speaking various languages at some level) and where, very likely, people do not even speak the "world language" English. Here, again, it is possible to get along by gestures in some cases, but the knowledge of the local language will help you get to know the culture better and feel the local flavor.
 
For relationships
If you have friends or relatives from other countries or, perhaps, you are going to seek a husband or wife abroad - in any case, a common language, in the truest sense of the word, will not hurt.
 
For culture
Do you like French cinema, American TV series, Italian cuisine, Spanish literature, Latin music (the list goes on and on)? Perhaps, to learn some aspects of culture, for example, the cuisine of a country, knowledge of the language is not so important. To get to know some other aspects of the culture it can be almost necessary. Think, for example, about literature. I have a small experience in translating fiction, and I know how difficult it is to convey the author's style in another language. After all, there are things - for example, play on words - that almost can not be translated. You can feel all the subtleties, all the nuances of the author's style only in the original, no matter how good the translation is. Reading in the original was one of the main reasons why I began to learn Spanish. If you like foreign films or serials, there is one more nuance added. Some actors just have incredibly beautiful pronunciation, accent, intonations, which are lost even with good voice acting. If you are attracted to more than one aspect, and in general the culture of a particular country - knowledge of the language of this country will significantly expand your opportunities in getting acquainted with this culture.
 
For living in a country
This point includes the previous three ("For traveling", "For relationships", "For culture") - and even more . For various reasons, people decide to move to another country, and some people sometimes do not even have a choice. In any case, if you are leaving for a country for permanent residence or just for a long period, I think you need to start learning the local language. Of course, in some situations, for example, when you want to buy something or ask for directions, you can explain yourself "using your hands", but if you plan to look for a job in this country or even just lead your personal life, communicate with people, make friends, then you do absolutely need to know the language. However, if you approach this issue correctly, learning the language in the country where it is spoken will be relatively easy and quick.
 
For your brain
Learning a foreign language does not just give you new opportunities in study, work or travel. Learning a foreign language - and in this case, no matter which one - is in itself useful to your brain. It stimulates mental activity, improves functioning of the brain, memory, modifies or creates new connections between neurons. A foreign language even works as a prevention of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease - the knowledge of other languages apart from your mother tongue significantly reduces the risk of this disease. It is not necessary to learn a foreign language from childhood - even if you start learning a language in adulthood, it will still have a great positive impact on your mental abilities.
 
For self-development
Have you ever heard the opinion that another language is another view of the world, a different view of the surrounding reality? And this is really true. A language to some extent reflects the view of the world of people who speak it, and, by studying a foreign language, one can feel it and even expand ones own mentality. And I do not mean just literary works, which you can read in the original (see point "For culture"). The language itself - its grammar, sentence structure, set expressions and untranslatable idioms - conveys a different view of the world. If you are already studying or have studied a foreign language, then most likely you have encountered expressions that do not exist in your native language and are extremely difficult to translate, but these expressions very subtly and accurately convey some actions or emotions - this is it, the most clear example of another view, if not on the whole world, but on individual things. There is a phrase "I am as many times a person as many languages I know". Some people say it belongs to Chekhov, or to Goethe, some even call it an old English proverb. But it's not about authorship. This phrase, however clumsy it sounds, is very true. Studying a foreign language, you not only train your brain (see point "For the brain"), but also your soul, personality, character. I think if I had not studied languages, I would now be a completely different person, and I do not really want to know what sort of person.
 
For children
Nowadays I work only with adult students, and many of them have children who study a foreign language at school (not only English). And some of them learn a foreign language together with their children, sometimes even starting at the same time. Someone learn it to help their children with school homework, someone - just to support. Some of my students even do regular language exercises ​​with small children of preschool age - this can be very exciting, both for you and for the child.
 
On a bet
This is perhaps not the best reason for learning a foreign language, but if, for example, you "have to" learn a language for some reason, and no other motivation is working - then why not. You can challenge yourself, you can involve friends and compete, you can just say publicly (for example, in social networks) that you are going to learn a foreign language and plan to speak it in a year (I will tell you if it is possible in one of my further publications) - often this can motivate additionally a bit. You can even invite friends or relatives not to participate, but to help you in this process - remind, follow your progress, push you gently forward.
 
It's just a beautiful / interesting language
Yes, this is not the most frequent reason, but sometimes people learn a foreign language simply because it sounds beautiful. Or has an interesting grammatical structure. Especially in the second case, this person is most likely a linguist or a polyglot. I once began to learn Japanese (I plan to continue later) just out of interest, and when I discovered that there were two nominative cases, I was happy as a child who received a gift - and most people I talked to about it though that I was a bit crazy. Most likely, this reason can not be self-sufficient, it alone is unlikely to suffice to steadily motivate you to learn a foreign language, but in combination with other reasons and factors it will only serve as a benefit, because a language that you not only "need" to learn but also like learning is much easier to learn. So it makes sense to think about it and try to love this foreign language.
 
Most likely, this is not an exhaustive list of reasons, moreover, often people have not one but several reasons for learning a foreign language, so as a result, each person will get their own individual answer to the question "Why do I study a particular foreign language". Let's find yours!
 
TASK
1. Look again at the list of reasons for learning a foreign language. Which of them are close to you? Which aren't? What are your individual reasons for learning a foreign language?
2. Take a piece of paper and write down (if there is no paper and pen at hand - still do it at least in your head): "I want to study ... [language], because ..." and list 2-3 main reasons for studying your chosen foreign language. You can have more, but not less - try to find more than one reason.
 
Russian version here.

Who am I and why am I qualified to teach you English

I talked a bit about myself in one of my first videos, but let's get to know each other a bit better 🙂  My name is Julia. I graduated from the Moscow State Linguistic University with a degree in Theory and Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages ​​and Cultures. I have been working as an English teacher for 10 years. Here I could just say "so I know what I'm talking about," and leave it at that 🙂 But that's not all. In addition to education and teaching experience, I have a huge experience in studying foreign languages. I have been learning English since I was five. I began to learn German at the University from scratch. I'm studying Spanish now by myself and quite successfully. Yes, I do not have an impressive list of languages ​​that I know like some true polyglots can boast, although I've studied a few other foreign languages. But nevertheless, I have a vast and invaluable experience in the field of learning foreign languages, which I want to share. As a teacher, I have worked with people of different ages (from 6 to 60 years), different levels (from zero to advanced), with different goals, using different methods. As a student, I have tried myself almost all the techniques, approaches and recommendations that I will tell you about. I will try to collect all this experience in this blog and to tell you in as much detail as possible how to learn foreign languages, so after reading to you, I'd like to repeat, you will only need to start.
 
And now tell me about yourself! Who are you, where are you from? What foreign language are you studing and why? If you have any questions about studying foreign languages ​​- feel free to ask them in the comments. I may even answer some questions immedeately, and some will be further covered in the blog.
 
Russian version of the post here.

Let’s chat!

It is no secret that the best way to improve your English is to communicate in it. With a teacher. With native speakers. With fellow learners. Thanks to the Internet, you can do it anytime and practically anywhere. How? One of the answers is language exchange sites. On the Random English channel I have a series of videos on this topic: how to practice speaking and meet native-speakers, how to use language exchange websites effectively, tips for better speaking. These videos will help you get started with speaking English. 

 

Communicating in written English (letters, emails, texting, chatting) is a good way to practice English, too, and a great way for shy people (like myself) to start communicating in a foreign language. Writing or typing for some people is easier than speaking - so why not start with it? Random English and I can help you out with this: there is a Skype group chat for the Random English community which you can join. I am not always online, but you can chat with other learners from different countries. Isn't that great? 🙂 Join the group chat and do not hesitate to write! 

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