Reflecting on Motivation for Learning a Language


I’ve asked today’s guest blogger, Lisa Stiefel, to help shed some light for those who want to get started learning a language. Lisa does Language Services like Language Training, Copywriting, Proofing, Editing, and Translation. You can check out her blog here.

So you’ve decided to embark on the great adventure that is language learning. You’ve bought flashcards for your vocabulary words, a bilingual dictionary, and you’ve sharpened your pencils.

You’re about to go in to your first class and/or your first language exchange session. It’s really exciting stuff to meet new people and learn new things!

Now might also be a good time to consider your motivation for learning. Having a good grasp on why you want to climb a Mount Everest of words and culture might give you a better idea of what your learning goals are. And once you’ve clearly outlined your learning goals, you can start your journey towards accomplishment on the right foot!

Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to learn this language? Why this one rather than another one? (For example, why study French rather than Portuguese? Or whatever the case may be.)
  • How will knowing this language benefit me in the future? Will it help me pass an exam? Will it improve my chances of getting a better job? Will it make travelling easier?

Reflect on these questions and take some time to write out your answers:
Mastering a language is a long process, and it could be easy to get frustrated or discouraged along the way. This way, you can always refer back to your original motivation and expectations You might surprise yourself when you realize that you’ve accomplished far more than you thought you ever could- very encouraging! You might also find that as you go, your motivation changes, your expectations are different, and your goals take another turn than you had initially thought. That’s ok! It’s a sure sign of growth!

Get your teacher’s or language exchange partner’s advice:
An experienced teacher can give you feedback as to whether or not your expectations and timeframe are realistic. This can save you from putting yourself under an unnecessary amount of pressure so that you can have more fun learning.

Research done on different types of motivation for language learning indicates that learners can accomplish the learning task equally successfully whether they are simply trying to pass an exam or integrate into the society where the language is spoken. That’s good news for learners, because it means you can do it no matter what! (I, personally, contend that the learner whose motivation is simply the joy of learning will not only accomplish the task at hand, but also be much happier in doing so! We would need further empirical data to confirm
this though.:) )

Thanks so much for the article Lisa! Be sure to check out our Free Language Exchange Community if you are new to the site.

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One Response to Reflecting on Motivation for Learning a Language

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