Rocket Languages Blog 9 Ways How to Stay Motivated and Have Fun when Learning a New Language

9 Ways How to Stay Motivated and Have Fun when Learning a New Language

jason-oxenham-ceo

jason-oxenham-ceo

Life gets busy, and your new language-learning app falls to the wayside.

 

You hit a language-learning plateau, and no matter what you do, you can’t move forward in Russian.

 

You accomplish your biggest Spanish learning goal and can’t find the motivation to pursue a new one.

 

Or maybe nothing is wrong—your target language just doesn’t thrill you the way that it used to.

 

No matter the reason, all language-learners lose motivation now and then. Sometimes it feels like the enthusiasm will never come back. The good news? We can help with that! By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to have fun with your language again.

 

1. Go on a trip around the world.

 

The number one way to get inspired? Pack your bags for a country that speaks your target language. You’ll learn to situate the language inside of the culture that created it, you’ll become inspired by local art and you’ll make lifelong, native-speaking friends.

 

Still feeling a bit insecure speaking with native speakers? Here is some advice on how to become conversational in a language.

 

Travel tip: Typical destinations are overrated. If you’re studying French, you don’t have to go to Paris—try Francophone West Africa. The beaches in Senegal will leave you breathless. Learning Mandarin? Instead of mainland China, give Taiwan a try. How about Russian? Skip Moscow and spend two weeks in Belarus. Understanding the different local accents of a language will be a new exciting challenge for you to master.

 

2. Find true love (or best friendship).

 

Nothing will inspire you faster than a long-distance lover who speaks your target language. You’ll find a new passion for flashcards if your partner’s eyes light up whenever you use a new vocabulary word.

 

These days, many dating apps let you swipe in cities where you don’t even live—you never have to be confined to your physical surroundings again!

 

If you’re not ready for love, then make some lasting friendships with online message boards. Have you spent much time checking out the Rocket Languages forums yet? Try our award-winning language learning software for free and connect with other language learners from all around the world.

 

3. Beat a video game. Then beat it again.

 

Time flies when you’re trying to destroy your own high score. If you don’t feel like studying flashcards or completing a full Rocket Languages audio lesson—then don’t. Instead, switch your favorite video game into your target language to pick up words without even realizing it.

 

Story-based games work best for this, so if you’re a fan of sprawling narratives like Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, then you’re in luck!

 

Online role-playing games are also top choices, because you can talk to players who hail from all over the world. Flip on your microphone and challenge yourself to only speak your target language.

 

If video games aren’t your thing, then use an analog version of the same strategy. Pick up your favorite book (or the next book in your favorite series) and work your way through it in Portuguese, in Korean, in German, in whatever language you want to learn. If you’re stuck, The Little Prince is a great place to start. It’s been translated into hundreds of different languages, including Ancient Egyptian.

 

4. Sing at the top of your lungs.

 

Check to see where your favorite target-language musicians are touring, and make it a point to catch a show. If you can’t find any workable tour dates, then scroll your local listings for international events at a nearby cultural center; institutes like Goethe and Alliance francaise always have events, and smaller, local cultural centers host get-togethers as well. Or save up for a larger music festival that stages bands in dozens of languages.

 

Learn the songs before the concert and challenge yourself to sing along. Even if you don’t hit all of the lyrics perfectly, the important thing is that you’re speaking—and you’re speaking in public. If you’ve ever been nervous to use your target language in front of other people, then a concert is the perfect way to break the ice!

 

5. Retake an exam to see how far you’ve come.

 

After you’ve been studying a language for a few months or years, you might feel like you’re treading water. No matter how much you study, it feels like you haven’t come very far and you still have forever to go.

 

But that’s not true. To prove that you’ve been moving forward, take a test. At first glance, this might seem counterintuitive. Aren’t tests stressful? Don’t they prove what you don’t know?

 

On the contrary, tests reflect that you know more than you think. Take a test that you’ve already taken before. Once, there was a time that you struggled with this test—you’ll be amazed how easy it is now. Even when you thought your learning was going nowhere, you were advancing and solidifying what you already knew. Things that you once struggled with are now a piece of cake!

 

6. Get inspired by polyglot videos.

 

Learning a second language can feel lonely. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who ever struggled with irregular German conjugations or Chinese vocabulary.

 

For inspiration, check out videos made by polyglots. Polyglot is a fancy word for someone who speaks several languages. For example, Lindie Botes speaks 10 languages!

 

They started out just like you: They only knew one language. Many of them were even poor language learners in school. But over time, through sheer determination, they mastered multiple languages. If they can do it, then you can too.

 

7. Fire up your stove.

 

If you can’t travel to a country that speaks your target language, do the next best thing—recreate it in your kitchen. Research popular recipes. Learning Egyptian Arabic? Try your hand at Fatteh (filled flatbread). Or how about mastering the art of Ramen to get back into Japanese?

 

Go a few steps further by integrating the country into your everyday life. One Friday a month, invite friends over to watch a classic film from that country. Line your shelves with first editions by the country’s most famous authors. Order clothing made in that country to inspire yourself whenever you put it on.

 

8. Reward yourself generously.

 

What do you want? What do you really want? Maybe it’s the latest phone, or a trip to Greece, or even just a cinnamon roll from your neighborhood baker. Use this item as an incentive. Complete a goal, get a reward.

 

Don’t only create long-term goals; if all of your goals will take months to accomplish, you’ll end up losing steam. So, in addition to a big goal, set up several checkpoints with smaller (but still tempting) rewards. Maybe you have to finish your daily flashcard set watching Netflix. Maybe you have to study for five days in a row in order to earn your favorite food.

 

9. Take a break.

 

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a language is to step back from it.

 

Bear with me. Take a temporary, carefully monitored break. Set a specific amount of time, such as a week or ten days, and stick to the limit.

 

Keep studying your language every day, even during your break. But instead of doing it for an hour a day, do it for ten minutes. Or five minutes. Just enough to keep the gears grinding. If you step away completely, not only will you be less likely to return, but you’ll also become more frustrated if you do attempt to return.

 

Note: These shortened study periods should still be active, such as reviewing 15 flashcards or completing a grammar exercise. Passive studying won’t do much for you here; don’t sit back, watch five minutes of a target-language show, and expect to stay abreast.

 

You can get motivated again!

 

If you’re stuck in a rut, take heart—you won’t be there forever! Go to a country that speaks the language, or recreate it in your own apartment. Reward yourself, beat a video game and attend a music festival. Shake things up. Then the language will entice you even more than before!


Post by guest blogger Jamie McGhee: Jamie McGhee is a novelist, playwright and aspiring polyglot currently making her way through East Africa with a backpack.

teacup

teacup

Lindie makes it look so easy. (⋟﹏⋞) …

Thank you for linking her YouTube channel! I didn't know about it before. She has lots of inspirational and practical videos for language learning.
ClaudiaR-sc5G

ClaudiaR-sc5G

These are great ideas!  I am studying Japanese and study nearly every day.  Once in a while, almost always when I go to visit out-of-state relatives  during holidays, I take a day or two off.  Usually doesn't hurt my learning, but it is never a very long break.  To make up for this, I go to as many Japanese cultural events as possible to practice my "baby" speaking skills. At Thanksgiving, I went to an International Festival and spent a good amount of time speaking Japanese to the presenters.  They were so encouraging.  I hope to go to a Japanese Cultural Fest in two weeks and try speaking Japanese again.  It is fun, I learn about the culture, and I get so much motivation from the people who encourage me.
Joe-C4

Joe-C4

I took a nine day break in October to go on a cruise and it help quite a bit to get motivated to continue with my learning.

I got both my bachelors and Masters on line and had to go through several times that I went into a rut. But knowing that it would not last kept me motivated.
Niloer

Niloer

Thanks for the video from Lindie. It does make me more motivated to learn, especially if you feel like your are plateauing!
Tony-S10

Tony-S10

breaks can help but you lose information quickly. I like trying different methods sometimes like go from computer to books or watch foreign shows.
ClaudiaR-sc5G

ClaudiaR-sc5G

I do that, too, Tony.  I have tons of various materials I can use  to keep me interested.  It makes a difference.
teacup

teacup

Finding lyric videos to sing along to on YouTube is a ton of fun. :-)
(#4 Sing at the top of your lungs.)

I would like to try a video game in a foreign language but I have yet to find a story driven one (something like What Remains of Edith Finch) with Japanese audio.
Tony-S10

Tony-S10

Songs are something I do to. I will listen for a while and then as above look up the lyrics just to listen along and understand with it.
ClaudiaR-sc5G

ClaudiaR-sc5G

I have one song in particular that I really love on You Tube.  I watch it, sing along, and study the accompanying kana/kanji on each page.  It's fun, and I am learning more vocabulary and kanji.
teacup

teacup

Claudia, please add it to the "Japanese Culture and Travel > YouTube カラオケ" thread.
ClaudiaR-sc5G

ClaudiaR-sc5G

I will try to see if I can do it.
Tony-S10

Tony-S10

Alright while we are on songs here are some of my favourites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC1Q7DuNKfw&start_radio=1&list=RDTC1Q7DuNKfw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgzJrw28sto&start_radio=1&list=RDMMhgzJrw28sto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pbWGrrEN9w&list=RD8pbWGrrEN9w&start_radio=1

The last two have a karate theme
 
ElijahR3

ElijahR3

Right hi I just started a few days ago and im already getting kinda unmotivated to do this. Can anyone help?

 

ChrisM108

ChrisM108

Hi ElijahR23.  Learning a language can be as hard or easy as you choose to make it.  An example of each:

Hard: Until recently, I got hung up over the concept of grammar (not an easy aspect, for sure), but decided to go with the flow,  and learn it via the context of the Rocket lessons. Done.

Easy: Motivation is a common issue for every language learner.  I study every day, because I have always loved learning languages. On days where there is lots happening, I do less and vice versa.  If you go through your Rocket lessons at a pace that suits you, you will soon look back and realise how far you have progressed, which will put you way ahead of the average person over time.  

I'm no expert, but have learned this through studying five languages over many years.

The main thing is to just enjoy it,, as it's really quite a buzz, knowing something of another language. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, TV programmes, music - all in your chosen language.  The variety is immense.

Enjoy!

Chris

RobertC106

RobertC106

Chris,

That's all certainly worthwhile advice, and you obviously love studying languages, but I've yet to see one authority on the subject fail to list motivation as the number one prerequisite for learning a new language.

I find myself wondering at least once a week why the heck I spend so much time on this. I would never get through the rough patches without the desire, and can't imagine having gotten this far without it being something that I've wanted to do for a long time.

Robert

ChrisM108

ChrisM108

I agree with you 100% Robert.  Jason's original post was about how to stay motivated, which is something every language learner faces, including me, especially when travelling overseas has been impossible or ill-advised for nearly two years.

Most new learners experience an initial flush of motivation and then a wall of demotivation, which is why the majority stop altogether   Here's some user-created Duolingo stats: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/39925566

Bottom line: Without motivation, progression isn't viable.  Jason's post proposes how to keep motivated, and self-imposed barriers are a big part of the issue.

Chris

 

Daryl-O1

Daryl-O1

Elijah, it's like everything else in life, you have to want it. I get so tired and annoyed looking at all the ads about “learn Spanish without any work” “learn a language in 3 months.” It takes work and dedication and I don't believe there is any easy way to do it except continuous, repeated repetition and practice. 

I was here about 6 years ago and quit after I finished level 1. It kept bugging me and finally made the time to get back to it and now I'm motivated to complete it and once and for all, finally speak Spanish.

For me, it's a matter of making it fit. I try to keep my learning to about an hour a day, I have other things to do, and sometimes I'm not totally in the mood so I'll do a quick set of flash cards and leave it at that.

It comes down to the reason you're doing it  and your own self discipline in doing it. And I'm really happy with it, I'm not there yet but I can speak an amount of Spanish that people can understand me. 

ClaudiaR-sc5G

ClaudiaR-sc5G

It helps to have a short term goal, too, as well as long term goals.  I have a chance to see some Japanese athletes in a month or so, and I am reviewing like crazy to  practice anything I think I might get a chance to say. 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Years ago, I was a competitive distance runner, and I once read in a magazine some advice for being consistent, which was itself considered essential. The advice was, whenever you don't feel like going for your run, get your running clothes on and go sit on the curb. Chances are you're going to go for that run.

When it comes to French, when I don't feel like studying, I just start thinking in French. I imagine a conversation that I'm capable of having in French and I type it up. After a while, I'll insert the French into a translator. I know enough French that the translator will likely generate the English I had in mind. The fun begins when I reverse the translator to see how it would say the thoughts in French. For everything that it says differently from the way I phrased it, I go off to the internet to read about why. Voila ! Back down the rabbit hole without even trying.

Like most people who have an opinion on the matter, I can't imagine studying French without the entirety of the internet's resources. It's just amazing what's out there. For me, trying to learn French while confined to this platform would be like trying to learn to swim in a hot tub.

Robert

sebongela

sebongela

Hi All

Yes sometimes motivation does wane. My motto"just keep swimming" from Finding Nemo. I find using other resources sometimes break the monotony. Have a German penfreind and she gives me small lessons(am still on level 1 German"

A few days ago I had a sentence in mind to write to her, then felt insecure about it so looked it up on a translator. Came up with something different. So when I emailed her I asked her which one was correct. My first thought was spot on. She said the translator was incorrect and out of cotext. So now am a bit more careful and wary of a translator. I must say I was quite thrilled that my instinct was correct

Sebongela