Learning a foreign language is a long process that requires months – maybe even years – of work. Unfortunately, it can be easy to get discouraged because of this. Maintaining high levels of motivation to learn a language won’t just help you during the process. It’s an essential component of your success.

Last actualization: 13/3/2024

A hiker stands atop a mountain above the clouds with their hands in the air. Text reads: Boost your motivation to learn a language.

How to Boost and Maintain Your Motivation to Learn a Language

This article will provide you with the key steps to keep your motivation high and stay on track to meet your goals.

Define your reasons and set realistic goals

As we just said, learning a language is a commitment. So naturally, it should answer an unsatisfied need in your life. Why did you choose to learn this language rather than another? We all have good reasons to learn a foreign language so what are yours? Are you interested in movies produced in that country, in its music, or maybe you would like to be able to speak with your friends in their mother tongue? Your reasons for learning a new language should be personal, so don’t be afraid to think about it for some time.

Also, accept that your sources of motivation might evolve as time goes by. Some won’t affect you as much as they used to, while others that weren’t that important to you at first will take their place. Keep an open eye and be curious about everything; the discoveries you’ll make as you learn will give you new reasons to keep going.

VIDEO: How to Stay Motivated to Study a Language

Our English instructor Abbe has recorded a video with additional tips on how to use your language learning goals as motivation. Feel free to watch the video here or on YouTube.

If you can’t watch right now, here’s a quick summary:

  • Right from the start, find out why you want to learn your target language. Grab a pen and paper (even if it sounds a bit archaic…) and write down your reasons. Make them really personal: maybe you want to learn so your company will agree to transfer you to a foreign office. Maybe learning new skills is important for your personal growth. Or maybe you just want to be able to watch the K-Dramas you love in Korean… Whatever the reason, as long as it means something to you.
  • To make it more concrete, list all the things you’ll be able to do once you’ve mastered the language. Then stick this list in a highly visible place like on your computer, in your bedroom, or on the bathroom mirror so you can see it all the time.
  • Finally, make sure you look at your goal list regularly. It’ll help you stay on track and “feed” your motivation! You might find it helpful to set short-term interim goals to give yourself a sense of accomplishment. Give yourself targets that are both motivating and realistic: in other words, SMART goals. To make sure you get off on the right foot, you can also set yourself a 30-day challenge, which will help you create a learning routine while having fun.

Abbe’s video is in English, but subtitles are available in several languages. You can turn them on by clicking on the Settings gear in the bottom right corner.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips!

Transform what you’re learning into a passion

Beginning your language learning journey is all about inserting a foreign element into your daily life. This can be a challenging task. Your daily study sessions can thus either become a burden or something to look forward to. To always go over something learned with a smile on your face, you need to associate what you’re learning with a passion of yours. This will make you feel you’re not working at all (and you won’t be)! Bit by bit, learning the language may become in and of itself a passion—simply learning your language of choice using your method will keep you going.

Work smarter, not harder

Learning a language is a long-distance race, which means there’s no need to sprint in the beginning only to find yourself exhausted and incapable of reaching the finish line. Our culture teaches us that to get results, you must work hard. However, when it comes to foreign languages, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you do this, you’ll be running the risk of getting discouraged faster, which isn’t good for your motivation to learn a language.

Do little work, but do it well. Spending half an hour a day on your language learning is more than enough. The MosaLingua app works with this exact principle: take a few minutes of your day to learn some vocabulary and you’ll end up knowing a few hundred words after just a couple of months.

Seek out human contact


Human beings are naturally social and always on the lookout for peers. To stay motivated when learning a language, try using this to your advantage. Instead of shying away from speaking to anyone in your target language, go speak with native speakers. Learning like this is an extraordinary way of making friends and discovering a country in the eyes of its inhabitants.

Even if you don’t live in a large cosmopolitan city, the internet can easily help you get in contact with people living across the world without even having to set foot outside your home. To do so, you have to make use of apps and services like HelloTalk or Tandem. You’ll find many foreigners wanting to learn your language and teach you theirs.

Surround yourself with people you can trust, and keep them up-to-date on your progress. Doing so will change your language learning experience into one of solidarity, making it all the more exciting when you reach your goals. If you don’t like learning by yourself, why not go to group lessons? In other words, don’t learn a new language in isolation.

Learn only what you really need

Keep your goals in mind when you consider language learning courses and methods. It’s important that they align with your goals. If you’re just looking to get by on a trip abroad, don’t bother studying literature or learning statistics terms.

Ensure that you maximize your learning by only studying the components of a language you really need at the time. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and might quit before you’ve gotten anywhere.

Would you advise a friend learning English to start with the past perfect simple tense? Of course not, and it’s obvious why. For a foreign language, the principle stays the same: always take a critical look at what you’re learning.


Conclusion: Staying on Top of Your Motivation to Learn a Language

If you take anything out of this article it is this: make sure that the language you’re learning blends in with your daily life so that it becomes second nature. By doing so, you won’t perceive it as a burden, but rather like an element of your life that you can’t do without. A polyglot isn’t just someone who speaks various languages: it’s someone who lives languages. If you adopt this state of mind, you’ll stay motivated in all circumstances, no matter what languages you’re learning.


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