It happens to the best of us. Sometimes you just get stuck in a language-learning “rut”. Overwhelmed by cases and conjugations, the learning experience doesn’t seem fun anymore.
For those of you who find yourself in this situation, we’ve got a few tips to help you “fire up” the engine and breathe new life into your studies.
1) Sit back, relax, and immerse yourself
If you’re spending all your learning time engaged in lessons and review, you’re missing a big part of the language-learning experience. Take some time to sit back and simply immerse yourself in a foreign environment. Don’t worry about understanding every word – just allow the context of the situation to help you fill in the missing pieces and pick new vocabulary. Don’t worry, you don’t need to travel to make this work. Simply tune in to a foreign radio station online or pick up a foreign magazine or newspaper. Try watching YouTube clips in the language or listening to a song. In the age of the Internet, there’s a million great ways you can immerse yourself in language and culture – and they’re all at your fingertips!
If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed by your studies, it’s probably not a good time to start learning new material. Why not take a break and review the things you’ve already learned? Not only will it help you retain what you’ve learned so far, it will also remind you of how far you’ve come – and probably give you the boost you need to keep going!
3) Make it fun
Language-learning doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be!) a boring experience. Try thinking about the things you like doing in your native language (for example: reading blogs, interacting on social media, listening to certain genres of music, watching stand-up comedy, cooking, etc.) Now simply look for ways to do those things in a foreign language environment. For example: read a foreign blog, “like” a foreign Facebook page, watch stand-up comedy clips on YouTube, purchase a foreign-language cookbook. Anything you can do to immerse a little bit more language into your everyday experience will help push you towards comprehension and fluency.
4) Make friends/connections
Nowadays it’s easier than ever to connect with people from other countries and cultures. A great way to start looking for conversation partners is to simply go to Facebook or Google and search for foreign language organizations in your area. Or you could search Meetup to look for foreign language events. Even just joining in on foreign language conversations on Facebook or Twitter can help you pick up the language and make connections with people from that country. If you find a conversation partner who doesn’t live within driving distance, just use Skype to video chat for free.
5) Set timelines and goals
Achieving fluency isn’t easy, no matter what language you’re studying. It takes time, commitment and practice. So when the journey seems overwhelming, it can help to break down your goals into smaller steps or milestones. Pull out the calendar and set some deadlines for yourself. For example: “by the end of the week, I need to achieve 3 hours of learning” or “by the end of the month, I need to complete chapter 1 of Mango.” Goals can also be theme oriented, such as: “by April 1st, I want to memorize a comprehensive list of food-related vocabulary.
So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, feeling a little bit uninspired, we hope these ideas will help spur your language-learning love back to life!
How do you stay motivated and interested in language-learning?