Stay Motivated with Your Language Learning

I’ll keep this one quick because the message is pretty simple:

Keep up the good work and keep going forward!

A lot of you have resolved to learn a new language this year. I know this because my site traffic went up by something like 30% on January 1.

People take a lot of flak for making New Year’s resolutions, but I think they’re great. There’s nothing wrong with making a positive change in your life–even if it’s a single step in the right direction.

But if you’ve made any progress at all, don’t lose your momentum. Keep moving forward. And if you haven’t made any progress, it’s not too late to start.

Here’s a snapshot of my website traffic:

site stats

(It feels kind of weird to blur out the numbers, but I’m not being secretive because I really don’t want you to know. It just seems tacky to give specifics, especially when they’re not important.)

You can ignore that last bar because that’s just today’s traffic so far, and it’s only like 9 in the morning.

If you look at the rest, though, you see ups and downs, but an overall steady decline.

What this indicates to me is that the general public’s interest in language learning is going down as the year progresses. I suppose they might’ve got all the information they needed on January 1 and are hard at work, but I doubt it. I think the more likely answer is that with the year going along, people are losing sight of their goals.

Here’s the good news: It’s totally possible not to get caught up in this trend.

My site’s traffic measures the behavior of a group of people. But of course, you don’t have to be like this group if you choose not to be. You can take steps now to maintain your motivation and actually make some real progress this year.

Like I’ve said before, language learning takes time. There might be “shortcuts”–like smart studying and aggressive learning schedules–but we’re still talking about a process that takes months and years, not days. Even with steady progress, it’s a slow march toward your goal.

So in this new year, if you’ve…

…started off strong but have slowed way down…

…started off strong and maintained your schedule, and lost some of that drive…

…put off starting and want to get going…

…then it’s not too late to do something about it to get your mind right again.

Here are some tips for keeping that drive alive:

  • Remind yourself why you wanted to learn a language in the first place.
  • Give yourself mini goals to accomplish.
  • Change your studying activities so that you’re doing stuff you find more interesting.
  • Give yourself rewards for meeting your goals (like a trip to a country that speaks your language).
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing day by day, and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking of the finish line.

Do you guys have any other tips for staying motivated?

Don’t just be another statistic with your New Year’s resolution. You can do this.

  • Amy Estrada

    I find that I have ups and downs all throughout the year with language learning. But it does feel like I’m turning a corner and gaining momentum overall. Thanks for the inspiration and reminder to keep going!

    • Ron G.

      Awesome! Did you do anything special to gain that momentum?

      • Amy Estrada

        Nothing special. The first two years of learning Chinese I felt like I was going in circles and getting nowhere. But I kept going, knowing (hoping!) that eventually things would start clicking. And finally that “eventually” has arrived! Once things start to make more sense, that in and of itself is inspiring and creates a natural momentum.

  • Andrew Weiler

    Thought I would add my 2 bob! I reckon engagement is the missing key in real motivation, of the kind that keeps you going for the sake of it, rather than for the so called interest factor, $$ or other factors. Engagement is what provides the juice in the moment to moment of an experience. It is what you see when you watch a person play video games…you just can’t drag them away.

    Here is a bot more of a thorough take on it –