Learning French, like any other language, is a long process that requires work, effort and perseverance. In order not to give up after a few weeks or even days, it is important to know how to stay motivated to study a language. Here are our tips on how to get through the learning process and achieve your goals!
Define your intention and objectives
From the start, be clear and precise. Why do you want to learn a new language?
You may want to study economic, historical, artistic or religious works in the text. There is also the desire to exchange with friends on the other side of the world (who speak a foreign language). Learning a new language is also about taking on a social challenge. For example, to leave one’s environment, to try other things, to see the world from another country, to pursue studies…
Speaking French, or any other foreign language, has many advantages. But clearly defining why you want to learn French will allow you to have one or more clear objectives in mind that will keep you motivated.
Example: I want to learn French because I would love to travel to this country (reason). I want to take a gap year to live and study in France (objective), so I need to learn French.
By doing this questioning, you will come up with a concrete goal (to take a gap year in France) that will keep you motivated to learn the French language.
Learning French for personal reasons
Have you chosen to learn a new language for personal and intimate reasons? This interest is already a good source of motivation.
When you don’t like what you’re doing, your brain always finds ways to avoid the activity as much as possible. A book bores you? A film is too long…? It’s exactly the same with languages.
The enjoyment of learning a language is an essential factor to take into account. Otherwise, you risk giving up very quickly, sometimes even before the first difficulties or benefits are seen.
Studying a language for cultural reasons
After a trip, or in preparation for a departure, we feel touched and captivated by foreign cultures. Through encounters and visits, we quickly feel the need to exchange and correspond with others, to make other authentic discoveries, less conventional…
Learning a new language is important if you love to read, write, listen and watch the works of a different culture. The more you like a language for its cultural dimensions, the more motivated you will be to learn it.
Learning a language for objective reasons
It is impossible to say objectively whether one language is “better” or “more useful” than another, indeed. But, depending on the context in which you live, on your needs, a certain choice is sometimes necessary.
The number and distribution of speakers can make it worthwhile to know a language if you are attracted to a particular continent or country. Two languages stand out:
English, with 1.268 billion speakers in 2020
Mandarin, with 1.120 billion speakers in 2020
Hindi, with 637.3 million speakers in 2020
While Mandarin and Hindi are mainly spoken by native speakers, English is a different story. The language is often used as a means of international communication and is even a second language. In short, the choice and motivation here depend on the usefulness.
In today’s fast-paced digital age, language learning mostly depend on the effective use of mobile tools, online platforms and social networks.
Is your target language will be useful in international exchanges? On the internet?
It is important that this language guarantees you interaction in the most varied forms possible. The objective of acting and interacting can only be achieved if the learner is willing to invest in it. Confrontation of opinions is only possible if you are willing to express your opinion, disagree, make choices, and more. Because learning a language goes far beyond the pleasures of discovery and curiosity.
Tips for staying motivated during your learning
Now that you have defined your reasons for learning and set goals, here are some tips to stay motivated to study and achieve your ultimate goal: fluency in French!
Staying motivated by learning a language at a suitable pace
Learning a new language also means devoting time to it. And here again, the pace of learning is crucial. You can start planning a daily practice schedule. Try a mix of different learning methods: textbooks, classroom practice, YouTube videos, apps…
One hour a day, five days a week will be more beneficial than a five-hour marathon session once a week.
Polyglot Timothy Doner recommends reading books and watching TV. “Even if you only learn a few words a day – and the rest still sound like gibberish – they will be easier to remember later on,” says Timothy Doner.
One piece of advice that comes up time and time again from all polyglots and experts is to spend at least half an hour away from books and videos. Practice face-to-face with a native speaker. This is an essential condition for staying motivated.
Stay motivated by connecting with other people
One way to stay motivated is through regular practice, which will allow you to see your progress, but also to open up to others.
Learning a second language may meet an immediate need. However, it will also help you to become a more understanding person by opening doors to a different way of thinking and feeling. You will develop not only your language skills but also your ‘intercultural competence’ – the ability to relate harmoniously to a variety of people from other cultures.
Seeing the results of your efforts on a daily basis is also an excellent source of motivation.
Taking ownership of your learning to stay motivated
Learning a new language takes effort and time. Watch how you learn so that you don’t get discouraged at the most difficult moments.
At the beginning, progress is fast and dazzling… and then, after a few hours of learning, everything slows down, everything seems to become more complicated…
There will be critical moments, frustration is everywhere. Frustration at not being able to express what you want to say, embarrassment when talking with others, misunderstanding. One day, just when you thought you’d finally mastered those absurd grammar rules, you realise how far away the goal is. But don’t panic! Error is human, the important thing is to persevere. How many times does a baby fall before it can walk?
Do not jump the gun
We learn a language in successive stages… and progressively. You should not try to go too fast, or you will miss important moments and become discouraged. Nothing good can be done quickly. You have to know how to sort out what you need immediately and what you don’t need right away. Each language has hundreds of thousands of words, for example, and the vast majority of them are not essential until you reach an advanced level.
The other important step is to connect what you have learned to each other. Everything you learn is related to other things you see later or have seen before. Everything is connected. Don’t hesitate to re-use what you have already seen before moving on to other subjects. And that way you can revise because… the more you learn, the more you forget.
Another stage of learning is the storage of information: notebooks, audio, mind maps… each person has their own method for remembering what they have learned.
Learning with fun
Let’s not forget the fun and games part of learning. Even for an adult, finding a fun way to practise languages is the key to staying motivated. For this, there are a number of applications at your disposal. Then there are learning groups, materials, online tutorials and smartphone games to make learning fun. And finally, don’t forget to practice and practice again with other people!
In a nutshell
Each individual has a different reason for learning French. Learning a foreign language depends not only on attendance at lessons, but also on personal motivation and the reason for learning the language.
Several factors influence this motivation. These include personal reasons, pace, objectivity of choice and techniques. Some seemingly simple techniques are nevertheless very effective in keeping you motivated to study a language: keeping a suitable pace, not rushing, connecting with other people or making learning fun.