This past week I have been not that motivated to get into my Mandarin studies, and it got me thinking about when I was first learning Dutch and those early days when I just wanted nothing to do with the language anymore. The only thing was that I lived in The Netherlands and there was no escaping it. I was forced to keep my head in the game and still be exposed to the language even when I didn't have to be actively motivated. I can't uproot my life and go and live in China at the moment, and so can't 1000's of other people, and yet, people learn languages all the time all over the world and I wanted to dive into how people keep their head in the game and their language mindset headed in the right direction and this is what I came up with.
- It's got to be fun.
Language learning must first and foremost be fun. It's been proven in studies that if you are anxious, angry, upset or stressed you are less likely to learn new information or remember it. Associate language learning with enjoyment and this should help to speed up your progress.
Whether you change up your activities, do something that's a little less serious, have a lesson with a new teacher or do something that is more relaxing than your standard study regime. Mix it up a little and start having fun and experimenting with your language study. Think about what you do in your native tongue for fun and could you do the same activity or something similar in your target language?
- Throw perfectionism out the window.
This was a big one for me. I am a perfectionist at heart and would love to come out of the gate speaking fluent anything if I could. It’s an impossible goal to have so I’ve had to learn nott o make it. Quite the opposite actually and realising that language learning basically is making as many mistakes as possible and then learning how not to make them. If you can embrace these mistakes and understand that they come part and parcel with language learning you’ll already be in the right frame of mind to practice at every opportunity and make those mistakes faster and in turn learning how not to make them.
- Be proud of your progression.
Learning how to recognise the progress you’ve made and be proud of it is a one. Whether you read back through old journals or pick up a book and realise you now understand 50% of it instead of only a few words. These are great ways to remind yourself you really are on the right track to learning a language and every little win and new thing learnt deserves recognition.
- It's a long-term game.
Deciding to learn a language and begin is actually the easy part. You want to learn French and you’ve downloaded DuoLingo, you’ve binge watched some YouTube videos and you might have gone so far as to book a few lessons with a teacher on iTalki but sticking with it is the trick. Committing to a language is almost a life-long commitment, you’ll be learning about the culture, the history and the customs of a community of people and it’s amazing and exciting but also hard work and the earir on you realise that it’s not going to be over in a few months the more fun you’ll be able to have with it. This leads us on to our lucky last point….
- It's not a race.
Learning a language is no race. Do you know why? It’s not because everyone learns at different speeds, it’s also not because everyone learns in different ways. It’s because there is no end point. Language learning has no end, it’s never finished and as soon as you get to that point where you thought you would be happy, there will be more that you want to know or even more ways to sound even better in that language or even more words that better describe the moment or how to express yourself. Understanding this and changing your mindset to going at your own pace and not comparing yourself to other learners is a sure way to keep you on your own path and to stick with it in the long run.
I hope these tips have helped to shift the way you view language learning, and even better I hope they help speed up your own progress with your language. For more language learning tips head to my YouTube channel here or you can even sign up to our newsletter for non spammy language tips to your inbox.