Written by Yuri Karabatov. Follow me on Twitter.
Time comes when you loathe the very thought of learning a language. But once you enjoyed it so much! Where has all the love gone?
I can name reasons, the most common is being bored with the same routine repeated over and over. Routines kill joy. Another one is studying the wrong material, either too hard or dealing with topics you don’t like, or don’t need.
Here’s how to reclaim the joy of learning.
1. Measure as You Go
You stumble into a wall and, looking left and right, see no end to it. You’ve been reading and listening and speaking and writing at large, but it seems you have not progressed much in the last two or three months (or worse, years).
This is to be — surprise! — expected. Beyond the beginning stages it’s suddenly hard to measure progress: you move in several directions at once with different speed.
This stage is trying you. You should try harder. Don’t give up, it’s perfectly normal.
As you go along, test and try your knowledge. You will see you are making amazing progress, and it will keep up the most important building block of language learning: motivation, the desire to go ahead. You know more than you think.
2. Shift Perspective
You swear and curse the language you’re studying and believe you’re a failure. You are a failure indeed; everyone is.
Language learning is a reverse process: you start by being totally incompetent and gradually become less and less ignorant by studying.
Rejoice. You can’t be a failure at something which you can only get better at. Anything you do will make you less of a failure and more of a winner. Everyone wins in the end, it’s a no loss game.
3. Go at Your Own Pace
People run at different speed, people live at different speed, people learn languages at different speed. It’s natural.
It’s unnatural when a group of people at college or at school is expected to learn at the same speed and master aspects of language at the same speed. You are forced to study at the teacher’s pace, not your own. You don’t expect little kids to run as fast as adults, do you?
Instead of freaking out, go for self-study. You will never be stressed about not keeping pace with other people. But they aren’t you, right?
I believe it’s not a problem today to find materials for self-study online. Thousands of people speak self-taught languages, and you can, too. Well-organized self-study is a catapult to fluency.
4. Bored? Fight Tooth and Nail!
Learning a language just isn’t as exciting as it has been once. Moreover, it’s plain boring. One simple rule: if it’s boring, run like hell.
Sit back with your favorite drink, relax and remember what made you tick when you were starting on the language. Remember your favorite movies in this language, your most favorite musicians and authors. Remember, why you are passionate.
Don’t force yourself to study all the time, it’s boring. Relax and have some fun with the language, no strings attached. Leaf through your favorite book, listen to your favorite musician or chat with someone in your target language.
Only do what you truly enjoy, what makes your skin crawl with pleasure. Cherish this feeling, and repeat enjoyable activities from time to time to keep it fresh.
5. Take Another Road
The course you’re taking or the textbook you’re studying just doesn’t cut it? Trash it. Seriously.
Not all courses are created equal, as are people. DIfferent people capture and memorize new information in different ways: someone listens to it over and over, some need to write it down in little black notebooks to remember, somebody even has to read it aloud to retain in memory.
Everyone feels different, and so do you. What if the course you’re listening to or the textbook you are reading were recorded and written with people in mind who feel not like you do?
So if you feel that the course murmurs you to sleep — drop it and find another one. There are many around, and you’ll have to try a few before you hit the jackpot.
6. Talk to the Best
Sometimes you envy or even despise those who speak better than you. It’s a big no-no, it won’t win you any friends and you’ll have nobody to talk to except your own reflection in the mirror.
Make friends with these people instead, and talk, talk, talk to them. Notice their pronunciation, mark their choice of words and intonation — learn from them. Those who have achieved something you want are the best teachers.
Robby Kukurs discussed a similar issue in his post “Don’t Compare Your English With Others!”, have a look, it’s much more comprehensive.
7. Never Say Die!
Winston Churchill said: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
Achieving something like fluency in a foreign language takes a lot of time and effort. If you stumble along the way, focus your will and pull through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will encounter walls along the way, big and small. Don’t let them discourage you, break through them without hesitation.
Impress yourself every single day with someone who has already achieved what you are struggling to grasp. Don’t be shy, contact this person and share your successes and failures. Look around: successful people help others succeed. This person will not be an exception.
Good luck in overcoming language learning block!
If you have your own tried and true solutions or seek help, feel free to share in the comments.
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