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Psychology-Based Tips to Increase Motivation to Learn Foreign Languages

The more foreign languages people know, the more culturally enriched they’ll be. Not to mention different business opportunities that arise when someone is bilingual, trilingual, etc. However, learning a foreign language isn’t an easy task. Both adults and children can struggle with mastering a foreign language.

One of the main factors that hold people down is motivation. Without motivation, every effort to learn a new language will be in vain. Motivation is something that needs to be worked on and psychology has covered this topic numerous times. With the following psychology-based tips, anyone can improve their motivation for learning a foreign language.

How learning a foreign language can benefit the brain

One of the ways to motivate yourself is to understand the overall benefits of learning a new language.

Commonly, we are more eager to engage in a specific action if we know the purpose.

There must be some reasons that encouraged you to consider learning a foreign language. Besides those reasons, you should also understand how it can positively affect your brain.

Bilinguals have shown to have a much better memory than monolinguals. Memorizing new vocabulary, grammatical rules, and usage of a new language improves your memory capacity.

Another helpful trait of learning a foreign language is being better at inhibiting distractions and multitasking.

Types of motivation

No one can argue that motivation is a necessity for accomplishing any goal. The thing is that motivation comes in different forms.

Depending on what motivates you, there are two types of motivation:

  1. Intrinsic (internal) – Comes from a personal interest. For example, making a card to give it to your loved one.
  2. Extrinsic (external) – Comes from the desire to achieve something. For example, studying to get a good grade.

In order to increase your chances and boost your level of motivation, you should find reasons that will bring out both types of motivation.

Increase intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation needs to come from within. It means that you need to be driven by a personal wish to learn a new language.

For some, intrinsic motivation comes from the desire to speak the language of their loved ones. Others want to learn a foreign language because they are fascinated by that culture.

It is proven that intrinsic motivation has more power comparing to extrinsic motivation. If you devote yourself to a cause because you are genuinely interested, the process will be much easier.

Even if your current motivation is strictly extrinsic, there is a way to change that.

Think deeply about what will make you happy once you learn that language. Imagine all the places where you can go and speak freely with native speakers.

Do some research about countries and cultures where that language is used. Learning new facts and interesting customs can help you with your intrinsic motivation.

Increase extrinsic motivation

While experts mostly emphasize intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation can be equally important.

Extrinsic motivation is easier to pinpoint. Your external motivation can already be established if you need to learn a foreign language because of a new job. Just keep reminding yourself of the rewards that will come once that job is yours.

Another extrinsic motivation can be to have more job opportunities in the future. Or to start a new career.

There are so many external factors that can motivate you to learn a new language.

Set goals

According to the American Psychological Association, people who set goals that are both specific and challenging, are 90% more likely to achieve what they’ve set their mind to.

Setting goals is directly linked with self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy. Therefore, establishing clear goals in the process will help you stay motivated.

Start by finding different sources with inspirational language learning goals. Academic writing websites can be a great source for tips and inspiration in the learning process.

The important part is to write down your goals. Don’t allow yourself to forget about your plans. Put it all down on paper and keep it is a reminder.

Whenever your motivation starts to fade away, just pull out your list of specific goals and remind yourself of why you need to do this.

Reward yourself

People respond to rewards as positively as children. We may think that we have surpassed the time when candy made us sit still, but that is not the case.

Bob Nelson, a motivation expert, and the best-selling author claims that “you get what you reward.”

Apply this technique to your learning habits.

Motivate yourself to stay consistent in learning by giving yourself small rewards. Nobody knows best what will keep you motivated but you.

For example, you can make a pact with yourself if you don’t skip any class for a month you’ll have a spa day.

Be proud of your little wins

Negative thinking and self-depreciation lower the motivation level. Many teachers and parents think that criticism and dissatisfaction will make the children more motivated. This approach is wrong.

Positive thinking and celebrating little wins will encourage you to keep moving forward. Once you experience that rewarding feeling of being proud of yourself, you’ll keep coming back for more.

It is important that you recognize small accomplishments and not just the final goal. If you wait until you completely master the language to feel proud, you might lose your fire along the way.

Acknowledge when you manage to learn the whole list of new vocabulary. Be proud when you excel in the next test. Give yourself a tap on the back when you pronounce every word correctly. Moments such as these will give you that dose of motivation you need.

If you make learning a foreign language a pleasant experience you will be more motivated to go through it.

Some final thoughts

Motivation is one of the most prominent predictors of success. If you know how to motivate yourself and maintain that motivation during the language learning process, you’ll have a great chance of achieving your goal.

Instead of relying on some speculations, trust these psychology-based tips. Practicing these methods and staying consistent will help you add another language to your resume.


This entry was posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2019 at 6:31 pm and is filed under Foreign Language, Language Learning, Learning & Development, Linguistics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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