Learning a foreign language is a long process that requires months, maybe even years of work. Unfortunately, we are often quick to get discouraged and easily throw in the towel because of that. Maintaining high levels of language learning motivation won’t just help you during your language learning, but in fact is an essential component of it.

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

How to maintain language learning motivation

How to Maintain Language Learning Motivation when Learning a Foreign Language

1. Find good reasons for learning a foreign language

language learning motivationWhy choose this language rather than another? Learning a language should answer an unsatisfied need in your life. 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 and so don’t be afraid to think about it for some time.

Also, accept that your sources of motivation 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.

2. Transform what you’re learning into a passion

language learning motivationBeginning your language learning journey is all about inserting a foreign element into your daily life. However, doing so can be quite hard to accept. Your half-hour of studying a new language can thus either become a burden or something to look forward to. It’s your choice. In order 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, as doing so 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 own personal method will keep you going.

3. Work smart, not hard

language learning motivation

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 so, you’ll be running the risk of getting discouraged faster, which isn’t good for your language learning motivation.

Do little work, but do it well. Spending a half-hour a day on your language learning is more than enough. You can even push it to a full hour if you fancy, but don’t do more than that unless it’s the weekend.

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 few months. Don’t make learning a language a long haul. Instead, you must think about your learning goals for the long term.

4. Give yourself language learning motivation goals

language learning motivation

Don’t jump into your project without having clearly-set goals. What do you intend to do with the language once you’ve learned it? In what situations would you like to use it in the following months? There’s nothing as motivating as having reached your goals. 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.

5. Seek out human contact

two women on separate park benches

The human being is naturally social and is 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 the intended language, go speak with native speakers of the language. I’ve always considered that 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 a 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 with your progress. Doing so will change your language learning experience from one of solidarity, as you’ll be giving it a human touch thus making it much more motivating. If you happen not to like learning by yourself, why not go to group lessons? In other words, don’t learn a new language in isolation in order to keep your language learning motivation high.

6. Learn only what you really need

person behind open book

Too many times we let ourselves be guided by courses and methods and we end up learning a side of the language we don’t really need. If you’re just looking to get by on a trip abroad, don’t bother looking at 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 become burnt out and will more often than not end up quitting before you’ve gotten anywhere.

Would you advise a friend who’s beginning to learn English to start with the Past Perfect Simple? 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: Integrate What You’re Learning Into Your Daily Life to Stay on Top of Your Language Learning Motivation

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.


About the author: Pierre Blanchon is a polyglot who loves foreign languages. On his blog (in French) Le Monde des Langues, he shares tips and tricks to learn languages using the best methods and resources.