What do we know about motivation and language learning? A lot – it’s a hot topic!
You start learning another language and are very motivated. Maybe you need it for a promotion at work. Maybe you’re dating someone special. Maybe it’s a requirement for graduate school.
The problem is that it takes a long time to learn a language – it typically takes years depending on the level you want to achieve. Motivation is probably the most important factor that will determine your final success. Motivation sustains you on this journey.
So if motivation is the most important thing a language learner can have, what impacts motivation?
Here’s a list of what we know:
1. Teachers (good and bad)
2. Other learners (supportive partners in class – or not)
3. Confidence (Do you believe in yourself?)
4. Choice (If you see options in your learning, your motivation increases.)
5. Relevance (Is what you’re studying useful for you?)
6. Community (Are you an active member in a real community or classroom?)
Some may disagree, but these are the top 6 that I see when researching and working with learners (I’ll update this list as I learn more.).
The problem is that while you’re learning, any of these can change at any given time – and many of them overlap. This makes things more complicated. Let’s explore each a little more.
Teachers. Your teacher this year may be great. Your teacher 3 years from now may not be so wonderful.
Other Learners. Other learners play a huge role in how you feel about your language. I once had a student talk about this issue, commenting that every time one of his classmates opened her mouth, “a part of my soul dies.” Wow! That’s a powerful statement!
Confidence. How good are you? Do you think you’re good enough to learn the language? Trust me, you can. Believe in yourself and that you can succeed.
Choice/Relevance. Choice and relevance go together. Do you work from a book? With a tutor? Do you get to choose what you do? Having some sense of control over your learning helps tremendously!
Community. You may be on an immersion and have a wonderful community around you today, but what happens when you get back home? Are you part of a classroom community where you never have the opportunity to speak?
There are strategies you can use with each of these 6 elements to help protect your motivation. If one (or more) of these motivation killers are impacting your learning, I invite you to contact me today (I’m not selling anything – promise!) and tell me about your experience. I’d love to hear about your learning challenges and develop your strategies for success!
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