Back in January, after all the Christmas cake and New Year’s Eve champagne had been cleared away, you may have decided to learn a new language in 2019. After all, why not start the year with something exciting and horizon-expanding? There are so many great personal and professional reasons to learn, and – as we pointed out in our New Year article – you could even justify an overseas holiday to indulge in some in situ practice!
But we also realise that learning a language can be tough, especially if you’re starting from scratch and trying to find a way to make language learning part of your routine. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time to sit down, clear your head and make sense of unfamiliar new words and sentence structures.
If you are finding yourself adrift of your language learning targets right now, here are some helpful tips to get your studies back on track.
Motivate your mind and body
Motivation is a funny thing. Even though January seems a mere moment behind us, you probably started the year galvanised with excitement about achieving your resolution to learn a language and 100% determined to see results… and yet already you might feel that you are struggling to find your enthusiasm, making those heady January days feel a million miles away.
The reality is that motivation is driven by any number of individual and personal factors – we are all unique. It is important to really want to achieve your goal, but if you are wavering off course it may help you to question why you want to learn a language – how will it benefit you? Will it help to improve your life? If you are not sure, maybe you need a bigger and better reason to propel you forward.
Another important tip – and one that we cannot really emphasise enough – is to look after your body. If you eat well, drink enough water, stay active and get enough sleep, you are priming your body for success. If any of these areas might need a little attention, it could make all the difference to your commitment to learning a language. Amazing that an extra glass of water a day could improve your mind’s ability to learn!
Make your goals specific and manageable
The devil is in the detail when it comes to achieving your goals. If you make your New Year’s resolutions too general (e.g. ‘eat healthily’ rather than ‘eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day’), this could set you up for failure because ‘eat healthily’ is too vague. When you are learning a language, you may find that breaking the larger task into smaller, more specific goals will help you track your progress (e.g. you might decide to learn the 100 most used words within three months).
Another possibility is that you are trying to do too many new things at once. If you want to lose weight, read more books, eat more fruit AND learn a new language this year, you might struggle with finding the energy, focus and commitment you need. And no matter how motivated you feel, your motivation can only go so far. Be realistic about your chances, and be fair to yourself at the same time – achieving any one resolution is an amazing result (especially since one American study found that only 8% of people keep their resolutions for the entire year!). Not that this should deter you of course – but it does make a good argument for keeping your resolutions manageable and achievable. Remember to make your goals SMART: ideally, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
Accept failure and move past it
You are not a robot – you are a human being, and inevitably real life will find ways to trip you up or distract you. If you lapse on your studies for a week or two, try not to feel too bad – just accept it and motivate yourself to move forward. Punishing yourself for your perceived failures will achieve nothing. Being kind to yourself and setting yourself back on the right track, however, is a wise and productive move.
Turn to Your Team for Support… or Find a Team to Support You!
When you are really struggling with your motivation, talk to the people around you – even if they are not learning the language with you. Just talking to somebody about how you are feeling can make all the difference between restoring your motivation or giving up on your goals.
Family, friends and colleagues may form the core of your support team, but you can find additional support from fellow learners online and through your language classes. Sharing the struggles as well as the joys of learning a language can help make the experience more rewarding – and more fun!
Bringing your professional world into the mix may give you (and your colleagues!) the motivation you need to transform your learning. If your company is not currently offering language learning training, you may be able to convince your colleagues – and your boss – of the many benefits.
Contact Simon & Simon today to find out more about how we can help you find a language-learning solution that supports your company’s needs.