In this article, we share our techniques for improving your motivation for learning English as a foreign language. You can use them all the time when you are learning English or when you need to boost your motivation in areas other than English.
IMAGINE YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE
Imagine you can talk to native speakers just like you talk in your first language. Imagine other people wanting to speak English as well as you do. Imagine the possibility of writing e-mail to people from all over the world.
You should know that it is possible to learn English really well. Just look at other people who have done it.
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD
You already know some English (you’re reading an article in English right now). That’s a big success! Now it’s time for more successes. Time to start using powerful methods of effective learning. Time to gain an impressive knowledge of English.
REMEMBER THERE IS A LOT THAT YOU DON’T KNOW
You are good, but your English probably isn’t perfect. You probably can’t understand English-language TV, read books in English, talk to native speakers easily, write letters without mistakes, etc.
You should never think your English is perfect. Even if you are the best student in your class, always try to find your weak areas and work on them. When you’ve learned to speak English well, your problems will be quite small: punctuation, rarely used grammar structures, rare words, understanding “street language”. Right now, your problems are probably more basic: mistakes in pronunciation, small vocabulary, grammar problems with the present perfect tense and conditional structures.
USE ENGLISH WHENEVER YOU CAN
Probably the most important way to improve your motivation is to use English.
Using English is fun. It is simply very enjoyable to use your English to read a good book, understand a song, watch an interesting movie, get an answer to a computer problem, exchange e-mails with a native speaker, etc. The more you use English, the more you will want to use it.
This is great, because using English is learning English. When you’re reading an interesting article or watching an exciting movie, you are using your English, but you are also learning new words and phrases. When you’re writing a message on an English-language discussion forum, you are using your English, but you are also practicing your writing.
But using English can also improve your general attitude to English and increase your motivation to study English in other ways. For example, if you see that your knowledge of English pronunciation helps you understand a movie or speak more clearly, you will be motivated to study pronunciation even more. If you see that checking your sentences in a search engine lets you write error-free e-mail messages, you will want to keep doing that. If you memorize some words with an SRS and later you come across them in a movie or an article, you will want to add even more things to your SRS.
TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT ENGLISH
This is a very simple method, but it is very effective. Here’s how it works:
You usually talk about things which interest you. But the opposite is true, too. If you start talking about a boring subject, you will begin to get interested in it.
Imagine you are studying a subject that you hate. You are bored and tired, but you have to pass the test tomorrow. If there are people near you, you have two options: you can tell everybody how much you are suffering or you can tell those people about the things you’ve learned. If you choose the first option, you will only feel worse.
If you choose the second option, and start a conversation on the “boring” subject, you will begin to look at it in a totally different way. Suddenly it will become a subject worth talking about — therefore, an interesting subject.
How can you begin such a conversation? If you’re studying English, you can surprise another person by talking to him/her in English. Say (in English): “Hi, I’m studying English and I hate it.” Or you can say (in your first language): “Hey, I’ve learned 50 English words today. Do you know what’s the English word for ...?” If there are no people near you, you can telephone or send an e-mail message to your friend.
What will your friends say? Probably they won’t be very interested, but it doesn’t matter! The important thing is this: After talking about English, you will study it with more passion. Try it.
FIND A FRIEND WHO IS LEARNING ENGLISH
If you can find a friend who is learning English and is on a similar level of skill, you will be in an excellent situation:
• you will have someone to talk about English with. These conversations will increase your interest in English, as explained in the previous section.
• learning English will be easier, because you will be able to discuss your problems with your friend.
• you will study English more, because you will want to be better than your friend. :-)
You should meet your friend regularly. Ideally, he/she should live near you, or go to the same school as you. If you absolutely can’t find anybody willing to learn English with you, you can try to find somebody by e-mail. This is a worse solution: your conversations will probably be less frequent, and it is difficult to compete with someone who you don’t know well.
SPEND SOME MONEY ON LEARNING ENGLISH
If you spend your money on something, you will want to use it. For example, if you buy an expensive tennis racket, you will probably go out and play tennis every day.
This rule is also true for learning English. If you want to increase your desire to learn English, buy a new dictionary, an interesting English-language book, English-language cable TV, English learning Course, etc. The idea is simple: You paid for it, so you will want to use it, and you will improve your English.
This method is helpful, because it gives you an impulse to start learning. For example, if you buy a dictionary of phrasal verbs, you will probably learn some words from it. Then you should try to use them. For example, write an e-mail message with these words. This will increase your motivation (as explained before), and you will learn more.
REMEMBER THAT LEARNING ENGLISH REQUIRES ACTION
We have said this many times. One small action is more powerful than reading hundreds of articles. Yes, we know it is very hard to do things, even if they are good for us. We humans are lazy creatures. That is why not many people speak English well.
Still, we hope you can do the things we talk about in our English learning method — not only read about them. You will be successful only if you change something about your life.
Don’t put it off. Begin now.
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