You scroll through Google searches, websites, blogs, and you end up coming across this article.
This is it!
This is what you’ve been looking for: tips on how to motivate yourself to get back into your study routine, to be excited about learning, to see progress in how you speak, read, and write in the new language that you’re learning.
Please, please, you think to yourself, let this work!
[Disclaimer: Simply reading the following tips and hoping they will help is not be enough. Putting them into action will. You have to figure out what works for you and implement it into your life.]
Here are seven important tips to motivate you during your language-learning journey:
This one is pretty apparent, but we’ll say it anyway. Eliminate all distractions. If you know that when your cell phone dings, you lose focus and think about nothing else than what the content of that text message or Facebook update is, then put your phone on silent while you study. Take it a step further—turn it upside down so that you can’t see the notifications appear on the screen either. Maybe even stuff it under a pillow during the study session to get it out of sight and not tempt you to check it. But while you should take studying seriously, don’t forget to take breaks.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. While learning, separate the material into segments and take frequent breaks if that helps you. Instead of hunkering down and spending hours at a time studying, learning a little at a time many times throughout the day might work best for you. If you can’t study for an hour straight, study for 20 minutes, take a 15 minute break, study for 20 minutes, take a 15 minute break, and study for another 20 minutes. That would be an hour of studying, and it might not be as rough as a full hour straight. Plus, during these breaks is when you can catch up on accumulated notifications, guilt-free.
Create a study routine. Put it on your calendar/set an alarm, and stick with it. Did you set a reminder on your phone to study for 20 minutes before going to bed? Do it! Unless you are falling asleep on your feet while you brush your teeth, you can squeeze in a 20-minute study session before your doze off. Admit it: You’re probably going to spend at least 20 minutes scrolling through Facebook or Reddit before you are tired enough to sleep anyway. Use that time wisely instead and it’ll pay off. Besides, did you know that your brain studies while you sleep? Read how sleep plays an essential role in the acquisition of learned material.
Reward yourself for big and small accomplishments. Keep a journal of your accomplishments. Write down what you’ve learned so far this week to mark your progress. If you met someone who speaks the language and practiced what you know with them, write down how you felt when you recognized what they were saying and were able to respond. Be proud of that step, even if you feel you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped. If you felt lost and couldn’t keep up with the conversation, praise yourself for trying anyways. You wouldn’t have been able to even attempt this conversation earlier, before you began dedicating yourself to the language. Look how far you’ve come now—joining in and trying out what you know, even if you didn’t feel ready. Props to you!
Be social. If you retain information better when you study in a group, turn the language-learning process into a social event. Do some research and find out if you live near anyone who is also learning the language or immigrants from a country that speak the language you are learning. If possible, practice together—no matter how difficult it is initially. Just remember to be cautious when meeting anyone from the internet. If you cannot find someone you can meet with in person, join an online group where the language is used regularly and try out what you’ve learned there. Keep in mind that typing is going to help you learn the written form of the language. You’ll be a pro at spelling and will be able to read any sign or menu when you visit a country that speaks the language you are learning. But speaking with a local of that country might be difficult if you’ve never used the language to audibly communicate before. In that case, look into video chats, such as one-on-one tutoring sessions with an instructor via Skype.
Form a relationship with the language. When interacting with someone who is a native speaker of the language you are learning, learn about their culture. Ask about the stories they were told as children, their legends, traditions, and generational wisdom. Go to a restaurant where the food from that culture is served; if you can’t find one, ask people from that culture for recipies or look them up online and try preparing them. Watch their movies, listen to their music, try their style of dancing or art. Immerse yourself into it entirely. Look into its history, learn about its prominent figures, stay up-to-date on current events related to the countries that use the language. And when studying the language itself, learn about grammar rules, common slang and idioms, proper usage of each phrase, the alphabet—don’t just memorize words.
Lastly, stay positive. Remind yourself that, one day, you will be fluent in Swahili and will impress yourself with your ability to speak and understand the language. Be excited about that! Work toward that goal with a positive mindset. Make learning fun! Think of it like it’s a treat you get rewarded with at the start, middle, or end of each day. It’s up to you to make learning a new language an enjoyable process.
Keep these seven important motivational tips in mind when learning any new language. If you are learning Swahili with the SwahiliEverywhere app, remember to vary your study sessions and include our Jambo Flashcards, YouTube videos, and podcasts (coming soon!) a part of your learning process. With so many resources at your fingertips, you’re all set to begin or—if you’ve started but temporarily lost motivation—continue learning Swahili. Be diligent about it. We promise it will work if you do as well.