There are times when I like to sit and watch people choose a language book or course at the bookstore. I see those who go through the books, casually looking through them, flipping through the pages, not sure if they will be able to do it. And I see those who are looking for a specific book with an air of determination and purpose – they need to do this. No matter what the person is thinking about the language or how to go about learning it, it’s really not the books or CDs. It’s not the classes you go to or the teacher you choose. The motivation and success in language learning comes down to two things: 1) Desire and 2) Passion
If you say “Oh, yes, I really want to learn this language – I have to!” that’s a good attitude to have. There’s your desire. You are going through like the people I watch at the bookstore. The desire to learn is there so they’re looking for the best and most for their dollar. And now that you have the desire, there’s one more thing you need.
Getting and keeping the passion alive
What are you willing to do to learn another language? If you are truly passionate about learning that language, there are some sacrifices you’ll have to make. You already have the desire by purchasing the books and language courses, or signing up for a class. That’s the first part of learning a language.
The second part is the passion. Do you have what it takes, and can you do what you need to in order to go on with your studies, even after reaching that plateau? To stay with your goal of mastering a language and get to the finish line is going to be a challenge. So how do you keep that passion going? Think of learning a language as a relationship with someone you love.
Spend as much time with it as you can.
If you think you’re too busy and don’t have time to learn, then look for the time to learn. Are you waiting in line for something? Or are you sitting in the waiting room of your doctor’s office? Those are great times to review flash cards, or listen to the audio sections of your lesson books. I like to print out a short, one page summary of a lesson’s main points or what I need to really work on and take it with me. There are lots of missed minutes just waiting to be filled with learning.
Listen to it talk to you.
Talking to you? Yes, a language actually talks to you. It tells you the secrets and shortcuts to make it easier to learn. And I’m not just talking about the cognates; there are lots of prefixes and suffixes that expand your vocabulary without all the tedium of learning a whole new word.
Make plans for it.
No matter what your loved ones say or insist, they love when you make the plans to wine and dine them, showing them how much you care. A language is the same way. Plan a time to learn a lesson and stick to that plan. Also plan a time to do some review later in the day. This way you’re keeping your “date” with the language and letting it know how much you care about learning it.
Another great way to keep your passion for the language alive is by learning about the culture of those who learn the language. The culture of a people influences how a language is used and spoken. Cook something from that country, watch TV programs, or if there’s a sizable community of those language speakers near you, go in and mingle with them. Live their lives, talk their language, no matter how little you speak. Keep that passion going.
Another thing you may want to do is write down your goals and put them where you can see them and check them off once you’ve accomplished them. Talk to people who have learned the same language and ask them how they did it and what advice they can give you.
The success of learning a language is measured only by you. The more passionate you are about the language, the easier it will be for you to learn it and keep going to the end.