Learning a language is a long process and it’s often challenging to keep yourself motivated on the road to fluency. That’s also why many people stop and quit before they’ve reached their goals. However, once you know the most common reasons people stop learning a language, it’s a lot easier to avoid the pitfalls and keep progressing until you’ve reached a point where you’re happy with your foreign language skills.
So, today we’re going to explore what makes people give up on learning their target language and what you can do to avoid the same fate.
An unclear goal
One thing that can really zap your motivation and cause you to give up on your target language is not setting a clear learning goal. It is not without reason we recommend first focusing on the WHY when you start on your next language. Having a very clear goal can help you keep your eye on the ball and reminds you what you have to gain once you’re happy with your language skills.
To avoid this common learning mistake, write down your one major learning goal. For example, “I want to find a job in a French-speaking environment” or “I want to be able to converse with my Swedish in-laws”. Once you have your eye on where you want to get to, start making that task more manageable. One great way is to keep setting SMART language learning goals, which can help you keep making the necessary steps to reach fluency.
There’s no time
Another common reason to stop learning a language is that it takes up too much time in an already busy week. When you first start out, your motivation level tends to be really high and you’ll happily choose practising your language skills over other ways of spending your free time. After a while, the novelty can wear off and you’re left with a long To Do list on which “Practise target language” is on the last spot. This is completely understandable. Luckily, it’s also completely avoidable.
The way you can get around letting your language learning drop to the last spot on your priority list is to develop a healthy learning routine. Keeping in mind the WHY, create a system that works with your already existing daily schedule instead of trying to force a 25th hour into the day. Remember that the only way to really become fluent is to keep consistently practising, so it doesn’t really matter whether you spend 20 minutes or 2 hours in a day doing it, as long as you keep up the effort.
You reached an intermediate level and have no idea how to continue
Especially if you’re working on your target language on your own, it’s easy to start feeling stuck once you’ve reached a certain point in your language skills. You can more-or-less express your thoughts and understand native speakers if they talk slowly. You grasp magazine articles and are able to write in a way that gets your point across. It’s the “I’m alright enough” level where you can function but don’t feel entirely comfortable and the subtleties of the language escape you. It was easy enough reaching this point but the progress seems to have levelled off and you have no idea on how to keep going.
This phenomenon is another common problem and it’s also known as a language learning plateau. The quick progress you see when you first start off has slowed down and it can feel very demoralising. Luckily, there are several practical steps you can take to overcome learning plateaus. In addition to the things you can do yourself, it’s also a great idea to get the help of a professional language teacher at this point. A private teacher can explain the details of your target language and help keep you motivated even through this challenging period.
Conclusion – Avoid giving up by making language learning work for you
The trick to not giving up on your target language comes mostly down to focusing on what works for you in the learning process. Customise your routine to fit your eventual goal and keep it in mind even through the mid-level plateau. Another great way to keep yourself motivated is to find a great language teacher who can provide support and guidance.