Overcoming a Lack of Motivation When Learning a Language

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Feeling a little lack of motivation to practice a foreign language these days? Don’t fret, you’re not the only language learner whose motivation has taken an extended vacation… Luckily there are easy ways to avoid losing motivation, and ways to get it back if it’s already long gone. Apply these to language learning, or any other area of your life that needs a boost!

1. Start small

If you’re feeling unmotivated, you may have gotten too ambitious for your own good… And ended up overwhelmed. That’s a feeling that can really destroy your motivation.

If you can’t muster the motivation to watch an entire foreign-language movie, that’s okay. Start with smaller goals. Try watching something shorter, like one episode of a sitcom. If you’re really struggling, challenge yourself to at least do five minutes of vocab review, for example. Even a few minutes of practice a day can be super beneficial in the long run! As you start to see results, your motivation will probably come back on its own. With time, you can gradually move back up to longer activities.

2. Break from your routine and try something new

We talk a lot about how beneficial structured routines and habits are. But sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to renew your interest and motivation!

If you usually practice before bed, switch it up and try reviewing your vocab flashcards in the morning over coffee. If you usually practice on the couch with foreign-language books or movies, get up and move! Dance and sing to some popular music in your target language. Or take a foreign-language podcast with you on your next walk or run.

3. Take stock of your progress

You might have lost motivation because you don’t feel like you’ve made any progress, or because your goals are a bit outdated. Take this time to see how far you’ve come, because progress is always encouraging! Watch an episode of a TV show that you couldn’t understand a few months ago and focus on how much more you understand now. No matter what your goals are, try to make them as concrete as possible. Doing so will make it easier to measure your progress from now on.

4. Renew your commitment to language learning

You can also use this opportunity to remind yourself of your goals or set new ones. Maybe you started learning a language for work… but now you have a new job and you’re more interested in being able to speak it for an upcoming vacation. Maybe you started learning it in school, so your goal was to pass your grammar tests, but now you want to learn more practical skills and vocabulary. It’s okay to change your goals!

You also might have just lost sight of your original goals. If that’s the case, here are a few good ways to clear the path ahead of you and keep moving forward:

If you’re a creative type, you could make a vision board with inspirational pictures or words that you can look at anytime you need a dose of motivation.

Or, just write a quick list of all of the reasons you started learning a language in the first place.

5. Talk it out with someone who understands what you’re going through

You don’t have to deal with these feelings alone. It can be helpful to talk about your lack of motivation with someone who understands what you’re going through. Every language learner has been in your shoes at some point in their life.

Ideally, talk about it with your language partner. That’s someone who is a native speaker of your target language and who is learning your native language. If you don’t have a language partner, you could head over to Facebook to look for groups of fellow learners. Or, check our our article about the best websites for setting up a language exchange. You can also post a comment on this article so that other learners and members of our team can give you their tips and support.

6. Or, take a break!

And if you’re really not feeling it, it’s also okay to take a break from language. It’s better to take a breather and wait until inspiration strikes again than to force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. Language learning should be a pleasurable experience, not a chore.


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