Best Ways to Learn a Language #2 – Knowing Why

Just like our first article about the best ways to learn a language, this one seems like a no brainer. You should always know why you are learning a language. Unfortunately, there is the tendency of losing sight of our goal along the way, especially when things get rough and we get stuck, something that is going to happen at some point, sooner or later, in everybody’s language learning journey.

So keeping in mind why you initially started learning and refreshing this reason along the way can help us to stay focused and to reach our goal.

I suggest to sit down and make a list of reasons why you want to learn a particular language before you even start. Don’t bother about finding “important” reasons but concentrate on writing down why you really want to learn your target language as this is going to be important later on.

If you want to learn Japanese in order to be able to read Mangas, watch cartoons or learn in a dojo, these are all valid reasons and motivations for you. And that’s what counts! If you find more reasons along your way add them to your list. Later on you can also prioritize them, if you like.

The thing is, when you get to the point where you seem to be stuck and you lose your motivation, it is far easier to grab your list and go through the reasons than sitting down and remembering them. If you are already down you won’t find the motivation to self reflect on why you started this. If you like you can even record a video of yourself holding a motivational speech in the past.

Another trick, especially when you are a foodie like me, is to treat yourself with delicatessen that are famous in the country you are learning the language of. If you are learning French get the best French cheese, some really good Baguette, a bottle of Bordeaux or make yourself a big café au lait and have a fresh Croissant. Play some local music as background noise when you are learning or go out and visit the best Tapas bar or Sushi restaurant in town. Allow yourself to imagine to be there.

This is also a part of the immersion process we talked about in our first post of this series. It also helps you to stay focused or bring the enthusiasm back when you are in a down period.

Picture by Flusel, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Love your tips, Kirsten, especially the last one! = P

  • Nice one, I completely agree! Writing a list of the language reasons or goals is a great little motivational tool. When I teach students a language, I try to come up with some sort of goal like “manage to order in the restaurant” or something. I’m a key suspect for losing sight of goals myself, so it’s all in writing down your reasons and going back to them – on a blackboard in your bathroom, if must be!