Motivation

We all have busy lives and sometimes it's hard to find the time to do the things you want to do. The good news about language learning is that you only need to study for an hour a day at the minimum. Just be aware that the amount of new words, grammar rules, and so on that you can pick up in a week will be different for each person. Here's what you need to do.

Set aside periods during the day at which you can study

The first thing you'll want to do is set aside some time during your day at which you can study the language. Just look at your typical day's schedule and figure out what time you have where you could study. Some examples include - your lunch break, on your way to work when stuck in traffic, while you're getting ready in the morning, and before you go to bed.

You'll want to make sure that you get at least 10 minutes in every time you have the free time during the day. Let's say that you study 6 times during the week in 10 minute sessions. In one day, you'll have gotten 1 hour in - the minimum you need. At the end of the week, you'll have over 7 hours to account for.

Set weekly goals for yourself

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The next thing you should do is create some weekly goals you have in mind. For example - learn 30 new words this week. You might be wondering what this has to do with finding time but allow me to explain.

Have you ever had a goal you've given yourself before? Did you follow through on it? Did you make time for it during the day no matter what? By setting a weekly language goal, you'll be more motivated and will naturally find more time to study and learn.

Places and times you can study

As exemplified in the first point, there are many places you can study where you'll have free time. Do you have a busy commute to work? Study while stuck in traffic. You could even listen to audio even if not stuck in traffic.

In the morning and before you go to bed are other great times to study. The morning might be a bit busy, but you could still listen to audio. Before you go to bed is also a perfect time to study. Surely you can take 10 minutes off your sleeping schedule to get some time in? It's also great because you actually remember things better if you study before you go to sleep.

Add up all the small time spent here and there and by the end of the week you'll have gotten plenty of practice in. Now you have no excuse not to learn! No more saying, "I don't have the time." Everybody does, you just have to choose to use it.

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What do you think? Have any other tips for finding time?

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Have you ever attempted to talk to someone in another language, but decided against it because you didn't want to mess up? Maybe you did try, but were too embarrassed or even scared to continue?

I personally, have experienced this many times when trying to talk Spanish to my Mexican acquaintances. Some times I wouldn't even attempt to talk to them and other times I would try, but stop because I felt awkward or felt I wasn't saying things right.

I'm still working on it, but these are some of things I've found to be true and help me a lot when trying to speak to a native.

People appreciate it when you talk in their language

First off, you should understand that people love when non-natives speak their language. Even if you are butchering it, most people will be happy that you are at least making an attempt. I've found that people will be glad to help and will correct you if you do make mistakes. No matter how bad you may be, just try. (you have to practice speaking somehow!)

Whenever I try talking to people who speak Spanish, whether is be at the store or a restaurant, their eyes light up. They're surprised that someone who isn't a native is speaking to them in their language, and it's a great feeling.

Just think about it for a moment. If they are always being forced to speak your language by others, how would it make them feel that someone took the time out to learn theirs and is actually interested in their language? They will love it, and they will love you. You'll also make new friends and people will respect you more. What's there to lose?

It's not as scary as you think

Its not as scary as you thinkThe most carefree people who learn languages are the ones who end up learning the best and the fastest. They just don't care if they say something wrong, they just talk and that works. And we know that the more you practice and speak a language, the better you get at it.

People won't laugh at you or scold you (maybe the French will... just teasing!) You won't embarrass yourself or look bad. You will be the coolest person they have met all day.

Even when I did talk to my Spanish acquaintances and mess up, they never cared. They just corrected me and we're happy that I was trying. It was all in my mind. It wasn't really scary.

Think of it this way. If you would just start that conversation up, you will gain experience in speaking and further yourself towards fluency.

It will always happen

warningsign1Do you ever mess up in your own language when speaking to someone? I bet you have A LOT. It's inevitable that you will mess up at least once or twice in a conversation. Especially if it isn't your first language.

I'm currently living in Kentucky (a state in the US) for a month, and if you could hear how much the people mess up the English language down here... I know people whose first language isn't English that speak better than them. (no offense to any Kentuckians ;))

Unless you're a robot, realize that even natives make mistakes and that you can never be perfect. Being a perfectionist won't get you very far in learning a language.

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If you remember these things, you will never have a problem speaking foreign languages anymore. I hope this helped you and look forward to your comments!

Do you have any other helpful tips for people? Do you struggle with this as well?

If you often struggle with finding the motivation to continue your language learning journey, you're not alone. It happens to the best of polyglots out there and it happens to me all the time. There are a couple things that I do to rekindle my motivation and get back into the language at full force. Let me show you how.

Recognize why you are learning it

Before anything, you need to recognize why you are even learning the language. And don't just say, "I just want to." Dig a little deeper than that. Is it because you want to travel or live in the country where it is spoken? Is it because your girlfriend/boyfriend/etc, speaks it? Is it because you want to pick up women (or men) from that country? Whatever the reason may be, you need to recognize it as to why you are learning it in the first place. By doing this you will always have a clear goal and the motivation to complete it.

If you can't really think as to why you are learning it, then maybe that is why you are lacking motivation. Find a language that actually interests you and gives you a reason to learn it. Maybe then you will.

In my case, I learn languages simply because I love communicating and connecting with natives and their cultures. I want to visit many countries and be able to speak their language, instead of relying on phrasebooks and English speakers. I learn them because they interest me and it gives me a buzz when I can talk to a native in their own language. Whether or not I am interested in their culture. Whenever I recall why I am learning languages, it gets me going again.

Find interesting music and movies

ElectricMusicCDWhen I was studying Japanese, I always used to listen to awesome Japanese music. I always wanted to understand what they were saying so it pushed me every time I listened to a good song. Do a little research and see if you can find some music from the language that you like. Look up whatever genre you are interested in as they will help more. For instance Esperanto, the constructed language made in the 19 century, has rap, house, and electronic music in the language (and it's good too).

As for movies, there are many interesting movies out there that have never been translated into English. If you are a big movie buff, then maybe you'll be motivated so you can understand the movie.

Find a language partner

If you can find someone who you know, online or offline, that wants to learn with you (doesn't have to be the same language), it will help tremendously with motivation. You will have someone constantly cheering you on, holding you accountable, and working towards the same goal as you.

There are many sites that can help you find language partners online. Here are some of them.

Find natives to talk with

Similar to the one above. Simply go out in your town or on Skype and find native speakers you can practice with. You wouldn't believe how motivational it is to talk to natives in their own language. Seeing the look on their faces when you speak to them is so funny and awesome. It gives you the motivation to continue learning so that you can speak more with them and have more intelligent conversations. To find natives speakers, just use the same list as above.

To find native speakers nearby, just search on Google for "[name of your town & state] + [language/country of language] + [restaurant, store, etc]. I searched in my town and found three Mexican restaurants nearby me, and my town is somewhat small. Just tell them when you go in that you would like to practice with them, or just order something cheap and try to strike up a conversation. You can break the ice by asking questions like, "How long has this place been open?" and then transition into something like "So where are you from?" and go from there.

Watch polyglots on YouTube

There are a couple of polyglots that I like to watch on YouTube. They always keep me motivated whenever they post a new video. One of my favorite YouTube polyglots is Laoshu505000. His "level up" videos in specific are the ones that really get me pumped up. Basically, leveling up means to go around town and talk with native speakers of different languages. It's always awesome to see people's reactions when he starts talking to them in their language. He puts out these level up videos at the beginning of each month, so it's always a constant motivation

Other YouTubers include, poliglotta80ProfASArloki2504 and stujaystujay. If you really want some serious motivation, make sure you subscribe to them all. There is bound to be someone posting a video that day.

Put motivational posters wherever you learn

Something I like to do in other aspects of my life, but also works great for language learning, is to put up motivational quotes, posters, etc on your walls. Surrounding yourself with positive quotes that tell you to keep going will help when you might not be feeling up to it. There's plenty of places to get free posters to print out, just search for them on Google or check out this site with free printable quotes.

Research places to travel to where the language is spoken

Do you like to travel? I do, and anytime I am feeling a little unmotivated, I simply look up some of the places I can go where the language is spoken. For instance, I was starting to slack on my Spanish about two weeks ago and to get me going again, I simply researched some places I could go. I found some really interesting places in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Spain. Just like that, I was pumped again. Just find some places where you would really like to go where the language is spoken and look up some videos of it. Works every time. You could even put the place you want to go as your desktop or phone wallpaper to constantly remind you. Reading travel books is also great too.

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If you don't really care to travel to the place, then see if there is any interesting parts of your town where people speak it. For example, China town in New York. There's many communities of foreigners in every city, state, or country you live in. You just have to find where they are.

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These are the ways you can regain your lost motivation. Try them all out and you will be ready to go again.

What do you do to motivate yourself? Leave a comment below and share your technique with everyone!

Mezzofanti, or Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti, was an old Italian Cardinal and famed polyglot who spoke around 38 languages with fluency. He was born in 1774 and died in 1849. He had no access to any of the technology we have today, and still managed to learn more languages than *99.9% of people ever have in history. He never even left Italy either. How did he do this? Was he extraordinarily gifted? When I found out about him, I had to learn more about the guy. I did a little research and figured out how he did it, and it wasn't because he was different in the brain.

*There are a couple people who spoke more than he did such as Emil Krebs (68 languages) and Harold Williams (58 languages).

He Read a Lot of Books

Mezzofanti read a huge amount of books in the language he was learning. He read books that he already knew in another language and could translate them over. He also made use of dictionaries, grammar books, and polyglot bibles. Today, we have software like Learning with Texts and LingQ that makes reading foreign texts much quicker and more efficient.

I have been using this technique of reading books and I can say that I remember far more words just because of the context. I also get to see grammar being properly used. It's much better than drilling yourself with flashcards all day. If it's an interesting book, you will be hard pressed to forget the words you learn.

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Spoke with Native Speakers

Any chance he got to speak with a native speaker in the language he was learning, he took it. Living in Rome, the capital of Catholicism at the time, there was an abundant amount of foreign speakers. Even speakers of more rare languages, you could find them. There's accounts where he would speak to Hungarian soldiers or help the wounded foreigners in hospitals so he could pick up the language and learn from them. He did this kind of thing a lot and had a huge factor on his language acquisition.

Nowadays, even if you can't find native speakers in your town, you can always use sites like italki.com to find language partners in the target language. You could also use sites like meetup.com to find local language clubs and practice with other learners or natives.

Too many of us are afraid to speak with natives when first starting off, because we fear we will sound silly or not make any sense. I'm not saying I don't do this, because I do. The reality of the matter though, from my experience, is that natives will actually be thrilled that you are speaking to them in their language and will be glad to help you out. I have a couple Mexican friends who I always practice my Spanish with and they don't mind at all that I'm not perfect at the language. They love helping me out.

We must get past this fear and be more like Mezzofanti if we really want to pick up the language the best we can.

Had a Love for Languages

You may or may not have a love for languages, but he sure did. Mezzofanti's main pursuit in life was the study and acquisition of languages. This guy was absolutely "addicted to languages." Having such a love of languages definitely gave him constant motivation. It also gave him more pleasure of learning new languages, than the average person. If you can develop your love of languages a little more, maybe you can find more success as well.

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There is no reason why you can't be the next Mezzofanti, we have it easier. Make it happen.

Did you know about him before this article?

It's all too common for native speakers of English to never learn another language in their life. Most of them say things such as, "well, everyone else is learning English so why do I need to learn theirs?" While a lot of the world is learning English as it is the lingua franca right now, there are still plenty of reasons to start learning one.

1. Mutual understanding

This is a big one. As we have seen in history, a lot of problems and wars between countries typically happen because of language and cultural barriers. By knowing the language, we can understand them better and their ideas will become less foreign to you.

Before I started learning Spanish and didn't know any at all, I use to view people who spoke it as foreign and different than me. Once I was able to understand and speak it a little, I then realized that they were exactly like me just with a different way of speaking.

2. Not everyone speaks English

Yes, it's true! Not everyone you meet will speak English. According to the British Council, there are only around 750 million people that are believed to speak English as a foreign language. There is 7 billion people on Earth. That means that only around 11% of the world speaks English. Definitely not "everyone." If you want to communicate with the other 89% of the world, you might need to learn a new language or two.

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3. People will respect you more

Instead of being that guy who makes everyone speak your language, or that annoying tourist saying "do you speak English?" to everyone, you will actually see that people respect you more if you speak theirs -- even if it's just an attempt at it. They like seeing that you put the effort in to actually learn and speak their language. It makes you seem more interested in their culture and interested in them. Even if it's just the basics, they will be happy that you know something.

As English speakers, we often take this for granted. A big number of English speakers don't care when foreigners try to talk to them in English, we just think it's normal and expected that they know it. Think about it from their perspective and why they would respect you more for it.

4. You will become a more interesting human being

How cool would it be to know two, five, or even twenty languages? Being able to communicate in another language automatically differentiates you from other people and instantly makes you more interesting. You will be the life of the party by knowing another language.

5. It's FUN!

Language learning can be fun, but it can also be boring. It depends on how you tackle doing it. If you do it right (and not the traditional, boring way) you will see that it can actually be very fun and rewarding.

I use to wake up in the morning everyday and instantly start learning and studying Japanese. It was so much fun to learn, but I had made it fun. If I had tried learning it the typical way, studying and memorizing, studying and memorizing, etc.. I would have been burnt out and ridiculously bored very fast.

Watch movies, read books, and listen to music in the target language. Go to chat rooms and speak with natives and other learners. Make it fun and enjoyable.

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Hopefully you now understand the importance of learning a second or even multiple languages. There are of course many more reasons why such as employment, helping improve brain function, etc. but these are some of the main few in my opinion.

Why do think learning languages is worthwhile? I would love to hear your opinions!

¡Adiós!