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How not to lose Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm, whether it’s yours or your students’, is a steering wheel of learning. Your brain may join forces with motivation, as an engine works together with an accelerator, but can you imagine where it could lead you without a wheel?

Let me give you an example:
There was a day when one of my brightest students had way too bad mood and she didn’t a have a desire to do ANYTHING. However, being a very responsible and smart girl (the brain), she understood she had to study to master the language (motivation). Do you think it helped? In a way – it prevented her from having a breakdown. However, the lack of enthusiasm led to making too many grammar mistakes she would never have done in a joyous state of mind. Moreover, while speaking practice, her mind was wandering wherever possible making short and rare stops at the right place (by that I mean incoherent sentences on the topic).
Another example might be very familiar to college students. How do you guys feel when you have to write a degree paper? As for me, it drains the life out of my heart and soul. Not because I don’t like scientific research! This part is usually pretty exciting. It’s the theoretical chapters that are unbearably boring. I struggled a lot, both with my bachelor’s and masters’ papers, though, their topics were interesting. The only two thoughts that gave me enthusiasm boost were “I do that for my research chapters” and “The sooner I finish it, the sooner I’ll be a free elf“.

Thus, I would like to share with you some tips on how to keep yourself being enthusiastic about learning languages. The following is applicable both to you (as a learner) and those who you teach.

1. First things first: when you realize that enthusiasm is leaving you, try to remember the initial moment you felt eager to learn. What happened? What were you thinking about? Who or what encouraged you to start learning this language? It may be a chance to get a prospective job, to travel or to communicate with the people you like in their language. Or simply to read authentic literature and watch TV shows! For example, I started learning Finnish because I go there quite often and I’m weirdly ashamed of not speaking the language of the country that I visit. Bonus points are that it’s beautiful and my favourite bands are Finnish 🙂

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Sometimes, you may think that you’ll never achieve the desirable level of knowing the language because you’re already moving too slowly. This causes other destructive thoughts. Regularly some of my students ask the following questions: what if I never make it? what if I’m not able to learn this language? what if I never need it? what if it’s all in vain because I’m hopeless? what if there are better students than me? Of course, there are! There is always someone your age and level who is better than you. Why is that even a reason of self-doubt? Remind yourself and those who need help in it that everyone has their own pace of learning and the ability to do it. Instead of asking those deteriorating questions, ask something useful! Like “why does this grammar rule work like that?”, because you need to sort it out for yourself.

3. Don’t be hard on the language! In the beginning all languages seem more or less simple. However, the deeper you are in the language, the harder it becomes. It’s pretty normal. When you encounter a difficult grammar or spelling rule, or whatever, don’t blame the language for being problematic to learn. Find the way to solve the problem and you’ll be extremely proud of yourself. Trust me. By the way, Finnish is goddamn difficult. But I’ll cope with it 🙂

4. Feel connected to the world! If you’re stuck in your studies, why don’t you temporarily put away your textbooks and entertain yourself? Find some websites where you can read the information that is interesting to you, watch videos or just talk to people about anything. Most importantly – in the language you’re learning. Once you realize that you can interact with native-speakers (no matter how fluently), it will encourage you to continue.
What concerns your students, bring them various authentic materials, like articles or videos, but make sure they’re able to understand it. Make them forget about their level of the language and show them that they have already learnt a lot no matter where they are in their studies.

5. Praise yourself (or your students). It wouldn’t be a motivational talk without this advice. When you feel like you’ve made a huge step in your studies, give yourself a reward. Buy a present, eat something delicious or even travel to the country of the language you’re studying! Pourquoi pas? 🙂 You deserve it!
Certainly, you don’t have to buy your students plane tickets but small treats or a simple “You’ve come so far, good job!” will make a difference. I assure you.

Well, here are a few tips on how not to give up your linguistic journey. I hope it will be helpful. And remember: it’s all worth it!

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