Motivation – what’s your favourite flavour?

Language learning is just one of the many things in life that you need motivation to do.  Many people start with the best intentions, but it takes some dedication to keep going after the first burst of enthusiasm and visible progression.  The beginning is often the easiest time, but how do you keep going after you’ve learned your first hundred words?

Looking broadly, motivation can come from one of two places – external or internal.  I, sadly, respond best to external motivators like having to meet someone for a class, being assigned a homework due date, and studying for exams.  Strong deadlines are important, and if there is no fear of a punishment (whether that be a failing grade, or just embarrassment or disappointment in myself), I find it hard to stick to a due date.  Some people manage well with setting goals for themselves, and it tends to work quite well if you have smaller goals that add up to a big or distant achievement.  Other forms of internal motivation include making timetables, giving yourself small rewards, marking your progress as you go, or withholding rewards until you have reached your targets.

Ideally, a combination of internal and external motivators would work best.  Perhaps meeting someone for a language exchange once a week, while doing self-study three times a week will work.  Perhaps denying yourself your favourite TV show until you’ve watched a show in your target language will work.  Everybody is different.

I guess language learning is one of those situations where ‘you only disappoint yourself’ if you don’t keep trying, but it’s hard to be your own sole motivator.  What’s your favourite or most successful way of finding motivation?

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