Have you ever felt like this before with language learning? Most have, but if you have not yet, you will. Trust me. Let's look at 4 ways that you can deal with these little ruts, avoid burnt out, get back on track, and keep moving forward, towards fluency.
Re-Evaluate Why You Want to Learn this Language
Sit down with a pad of paper for a few minutes and think:
"What are my motivations for learning this language?"
Be honest with yourself. There isn't a 'wrong answer' here.
For me, improving my French fluency is important because:
Reminding yourself why you are on this crazy mission and doing things like drilling language structure and vocabulary, singing out loud, mimicking pronunciation (even when you don't know what you're saying), and speaking with foreign strangers online, is important. It's normal to lose motivation when there is no "end" in sight. In language learning, you are never finished; there is always more to learn, to refresh, and to review.
Minimalize Your Life
Since I discovered the concept of "minimalism" that has popularized in mainstream western society in recent years, I have gradually implemented it into my lifestyle and decision making. What I have learned about this however is that this is no easy task to uphold in our world today. We must continue to re-evaluate, reset, and continue to look for ways to 'minimalize' our possessions, activities, and stimulus that we are exposed to on a daily / weekly basis. It's far too easy these days to become overwhelmed.
Here is how you can minimalize and clear space and time for language learning:
Minimalizing your life helps you focus in on the core things that you want to accomplish. Typically that's probably going to revolve around a focus on work, health, target language fluency, and relationships. Perhaps there are other hobbies or priorities thrown in there for your personal life situation, but for setting aside time to focus on something like language learning, a more minimalist mindset is a must. If not, you will simply find yourself being "too busy" time and again.
Make Languages Fun Again
The first thing I recommend is to find some new content: new music, book, series, movie(s) work just fine. The goal is to slightly change up the kind of target language "input" and environment that you were previously immersing yourself in. Focus on including things that you really enjoy.
The second thing I recommend is to set up online speaking opportunties (informal chats or formal classes) in your target language with at least two different people each week. This does two things: 1) keeps your foreign languages conversation fresh and interesting and 2) it is actually allowing you to consistently use your developing skills in real conversation. My number one source of burnout comes when I am not consistently speaking with at minimum two different people each week in my target language. Doing grammar exercises, flashcards, and language apps are great for building a language foundation and visual representation of the language in your mind, but it's not a matter of if, but rather when you will burn out doing these. Be honest, you're studying this language to be able to speak it fluently. Make this a priority.
These are my favorite options:
Re-Organize Your Approach
Take a deep breathe and look at what you were doing before. Ok, now tweak it. I can't stress this enough. I relate this approach to exercise routines, when working out in a consistent routine. It's natural for the human body and mind to tire of the same old, same old. Change up your routine.
Were you studying in the morning?
Change it to the evening.
Were you studying with Duolingo to work on language structure?
Ok, only use Duolingo for 10 minutes at the most and then switch to something like Lingvist. Start including one chapter of a grammar book or just bring in a television episode for listening (this too helps you with language structure).
Were you only using language apps and watching movies to learn?
Time to switch it up. Get an online teacher that you meet with two times per week and go to a weekly language meetup.
The options for re-organizing your approach are endless. Don't be overly worried about what you're doing exactly, just make sure to focus on consistency and continued contact with the language and you'll be fine.
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Levi Flint is a language teacher, learner, and traveler frustrated with how languages have been viewed and taught in North America. He hopes to change things with a bit of clarity, perspective, and common sense.