Majed Alhamad Weighs in on How to Stay Motivated While Learning a Language
Maybe you’ve had the following experience. You start to learn a foreign language for business, travel or pleasure, but after a few weeks or months you lose your motivation. You find excuses not to study, and eventually you quit. It’s natural to lose interest in a new pursuit once the initial thrill or drive to succeed wears off. However, there are many ways you can rekindle your motivation and enthusiasm for learning a language. Consider these ideas from Majed Alhamad, a multilingual language teacher, before abandoning your studies.
Let your stomach lead the way.
One of the highlights, for many people, of visiting another country or learning about a new culture is discovering that country or culture’s cuisine. Even if you don’t plan to visit the country or region where your target language is spoken, you can still enjoy dishes from that area. Find recipes of traditional foods that are eaten there, and translate the words for the ingredients into the language you’re learning. If you want an extra challenge, translate the cooking instructions into that language as well. Your goal could be to prepare one new dish per week. You might enjoy cooking and eating these new foods so much that you forget you’re doing a language learning activity.
Make it part of your daily routine.
Brushing your teeth isn’t fun, but you do it anyway, every single day. It might not be inspiring to compare language learning with brushing your teeth, but thinking about language learning as a daily, necessary task can give you the motivation you need to fit it in every day. And, like brushing your teeth, your language study doesn’t have to take a long time. If five minutes is all you can spare, that’s better than nothing.
Explore different forms of media in your target language.
Learning a language doesn’t have to mean doing grammar exercises or practicing dialogues from a textbook. An effective – and entertaining – way to practice your language listening skills and to learn new vocabulary is to find a media program, such as a movie or a podcast, in the target language that you’re studying. If Spanish is your target language, for example, you could watch a Mexican telenovela. If you’re a beginner, you might have trouble following all the dialogue, but the more time you spend immersed in media from your target language, the more you’ll understand. Even watching television commercials can be an opportunity to learn new words and phrases.
You might be learning a new language because you’re traveling to the country where that language is spoken. If you aren’t going to travel to that country, consider taking a trip there. You could find that the prospect of visiting that place refreshes your desire to learn the language. If you can’t travel, then you can still let your imagination inspire you. Research destinations you want to explore in that country, and think about what you’d want to be able to say when visiting these places. For example, if you dream of sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, it would be helpful to know how to order coffee and how to ask for your check in French. Imagine being at that cafe, and allow yourself to get excited about it. Having something to look forward to, or at least to dream about, could motivate you to keep learning.
Learn in small chunks.
Mastering a new language can be overwhelming, and this causes many people to feel discouraged and give up. While it can take several years, if not a lifetime, to master a foreign language, this doesn’t need to be a cause for dismay. Instead, be realistic about your goals, and focus on what is relevant to your needs. For example, if you’re traveling to another country for a business meeting, you’ll want to learn some basic greetings and vocabulary that is relevant to your profession, in the language of that country. Focus on learning these essentials, and don’t worry about the rest. After all, language is about communication, and if you can communicate successfully, it won’t matter if you don’t remember every grammatical rule.
Learning a language can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a slog. These tips will help you to find or keep the motivation to continue learning.
About Majed Alhamad:
Majed Alhamad is multilingual language teacher who has a talent for helping students gain fluency in a foreign language. Born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mr. Alhamad grew up speaking Arabic and English fluently and went on to learn French, and Spanish.
Alhamad started his career as a translator and guide for tourists visiting the bustling city of Dubai, and quickly realized that he had a natural ability to make learning a new language fun. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and has been working with clients, helping them move from a conversational level through fluency ever since.