Are you a traveller eager to discover a new world through languages but you’re unable to keep motivation up in your languages learning?
If you’ve answered “yes” to this question, you must read Eliza’s story.
Eliza is a language learner like us who describes herself as a tech loving business owner who left international corporate life to have more time and freedom for family and having fun with creative pursuits (her website is Made for Profit Design) .
Since Eliza has always been passionate about travelling and by other cultures, languages have become for her a gateway into a new world.
Read Eliza’s story to find out:
- How she manages to maintain her motivation to keep learning languages as a hobby
- Her personal way to successfully learn and make peace with grammar -even though she doesn’t like it!
- Her advice on how to get through your first conversations in your foreign language when you’re travelling abroad
Eliza’s motivation to keep learning languages
Eliza started learning language at school as it was also a school requirement to do two foreign languages. In the 90s she could access lots of TV shows with no subtitles and that initially guided her to English and Spanish in particular.
She got the language bug which made her keep learning after school. However, she soon realised that keeping learning a language consistently as a hobby was quite challenging once school was over.
Yet, Eliza found out that there was one thing that would always rekindle her motivation to learn languages: travelling.
Eliza’s desires to show her appreciation to a country’s culture has helped her to keep going in her learning and, in addition to English and Spanish, she has also learned French.
As someone whose motivation for learning languages stems also from the desire of having richer travelling experiences, I’d like to share with you a strategy that has also kept me going in my learning every time I felt discouraged or uninspired.
Here’s what I did and what you can do too: describe in details where you’d like to travel to practice the language you’re learning and imagine in detail what it will be like. What are the thing you’d like to say and talk about? Who are you talking to? Where are you exactly? What emotions can you feel?
Feeling the emotions associated to that vision will trigger your motivation. Write that vision down and come back to it every time you’re about to start studying. You’ll feel much more motivated and inspired.
I still remember the day when I did this exercise for the first time and found out about it’s benefits. It was when my English professor at uni asked us to imagine what would be and feel like speaking English fluently and we had a 5 minutes guided visualization exercise as a class.
At the end of the exercise I felt reinvigorated and super motivated to start learning. After that, every time I’d lose my motivation to learn English, I would go back to that vision to again feel inspired to learn.
GRAMMAR PERFECTION VS COMMUNICATION: 0 – 1
Another issue that can hinder motivation can also be about learning grammar.
This was definitely Eliza’s problem too.
“Grammar is not my favorite” she said, “I don’t really like it much so I never paid attention to trying to keep up . Yes, I would learn the rules, but once I tried them out, I’d rather go by instinct, feel my way for what sounds natural.”
In other words, Eliza’s doesn’t try to be perfect all the time. She learns the grammar rules, apply them but she rather focuses on communication over grammar perfection.
How Eliza’s got through her first conversations in French -without panicking!
Eliza’s way of “going by instinct” also helped her to get through the her first French conversations when she went to Quebec in Canada.
Once there, she realized the accent was nothing like the textbook French and people’s accent was much more difficult to understand. Here’s how she described her experience,
“I was at a fast food place and felt so self conscious to order. I just had to speak a bit slower, improvise a bit.. Just trying my best and practising in real life situations is okay, I don’t have to be word perfect.”
She concludes with a very wise advice that can help you get on with your first conversations in your foreign language when you’re travelling abroad,
“You have to have passion and willing to embrace being silly and slow at first.”
This is also why learning a language is a way to foster your own personal development as it teaches you to become brave and take risks and, consequently, to become a more confident individual. I talk more about this in this video where I myself share my personal experience as a language learner and how it helped me grow personally as well as professionally.
Eliza too agrees that that learning a language not only helped her with her career (she got a job in international corporate finance in Scotland which gave her transferable skills to run her own business later on ) but, more than anything, learning a language enriched her life with great experiences. In Eliza’s own words,
“Holidays are a lot more fun if I at least understand signs on the roads, and chatter around me. [Without languages] my life would be poorer in great experiences.”
OVER TO YOU NOW
Now me and Eliza would love to hear from you.
What kind of things you’ve had the opportunity to experience thanks to your foreign language? Let us know in the comments below!
We can’t wait to hear from you!
Keep learning. Keep travelling. Keep living.