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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.