Broken your new year's resolution yet?

How to maintain motivation for your language learning in February and beyond

Hands up if you started the year with a flurry of new year's resolutions and career goals.

Even for the biggest procrastinators amongst us, January 1st seems like an enticing time to start developing our skillset by setting goals like learning a second language.

At the start of a new year we often have students joining us at the Marlow Language Centre who have vowed, "This year, I’m going to finally learn another language."

In fact, one of the phrases we hear most often is, "I’ve been meaning to do this for ages…" and the rush of motivation associated with new year is often the push people need to start their language learning journey.

New year, new you, new goals, new projects… and then February comes. No matter how motivated or committed you were at the start of the year, the long, dark days of February can put a dampener on your enthusiasm.

At the Marlow Language Centre we’ve been helping students for a long time (28 years to be precise!) and we know plenty of ways to keep you motivated.

Here are our top five tips:

Stay focused

If you took some time off work at the start of the year, you probably had time and space to think about your career goals and how you wanted to develop your skillset. Maybe you pictured yourself confidently dealing with overseas colleagues and clients or perhaps you saw yourself giving a speech in the native tongue at an overseas conference. In other words, you mentally pictured the end result which spurred you on to sign up to our courses.

When the new year holidays are over and the routine of everyday office life kicks back in, it's sometimes difficult to keep the image that motivated you in the forefront of your mind. Errands that need to be run or tasks that need to be completed rush in to take up space in your head and the career progression you were dreaming of starts to seem a long way off.

The key to motivation is to maintain focus. Make it easy to remember why you started learning in the first place and consciously find ways to rekindle that same feeling. Whether it's pinning up a photo of the city where your overseas office is based, or just taking the time to think and talk about why you're doing this, changing your perspective to focus on the "why" will help motivate you to keep moving forward.

Find a teacher who inspires you

We all had teachers at school with whom we weren't particularly compatible and, as an adult, returning to a classroom situation can bring back negative memories of struggling to stay motivated at school. Thankfully, things are different now and, as an adult, you can set the agenda with regard to finding a teacher who inspires you.

BA massive proportion of the feedback we receive at the Marlow Language Centre mentions how inspiring and encouraging our teachers are and we're very proud of that. All of our teaching staff have been selected partly because of how they engage and connect with their students and working with a teacher who inspires you will help keep your motivation strong.

Before you begin a course with us, you can take part in an assessment where you meet your teacher and start to establish a rapport. Having the right teacher can make your learning experience a lot of fun rather than a chore and we work hard to make sure all of our students are paired with just the right teacher for them.

Draw on peer support

When motivation begins to wane in any situation, the support and encouragement of friends is vital. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, research shows you're more likely to be successful if you join a slimming group rather than trying to do it alone. If you're trying to learn a new language, joining the community of a language school like the Marlow Language Centre is the equivalent. We offer both one-to-one tutoring and group tutoring, but regardless of whether you share the classroom with other students, becoming part of our "family" will help keep you motivated.

Joining a community of like-minded souls who are all serious about language learning and have proactively made the decision to get involved, brings you into contact with a welcoming and inspiring bunch of people. A lot of our students become good friends and support each other out of class and relationships with both peers and our teaching staff can be the key to keeping your language learning going when you're finding it difficult to focus.

Make yourself accountable

One of the most effective ways to maintain motivation and make sure you stay on track is to hold yourself accountable. Let other people know your goals and you'll find you're more committed to sticking to them.

Mutual accountability is extraordinarily effective – it’s the reason why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous work so well – because it's easy to break a promise to yourself, but far harder to admit your failure to a friend or colleague. In simple terms, if you want to make sure you meet the goals you set yourself, tell other people about them.

When students join one of our language classes, they introduce themselves by talking about why they are studying and what they hope to achieve. Sometimes just voicing it out loud is enough to make a previously nebulous goal seem more concrete.

Alternatively, write your goal down and set yourself targets to meet. By simply getting the intention out of your head and making it public knowledge, either on paper or through telling other people, will help keep you motivated when you’re tempted to drift off course.

Keep it fun

The whole point of learning a new language is because it's fun – it's fun to be understood in a foreign tongue; it's fun to be able to converse with colleagues overseas; it's fun to be able to make yourself understood in a different culture and it's fun to learn something new. The trick to staying enthusiastic about developing your new skill is to keep the learning process fun as well.

When you learn a new language, there are undoubtedly parts which won't come as easily as others. Our ethos at the Marlow Language Centre is to make sure the learning process remains enjoyable at every stage.

A lot of students shy away from the idea of learning grammar because they remember how tiresome it felt at school, so our teachers are skilled at introducing and teaching grammar in such a way that students might not even realise they are effortlessly absorbing the information. Instead of bombarding our students with dry, dull facts, we have a team of teachers who all have their own engaging personalities. We use teaching materials that are up to date and interesting and we make sure the lessons are structured in a fun way.

No matter what initially motivated you to start learning another language, it’s vital to have a plan in place when your motivation, invariably, dips. Bookmark this article, make note of our tips and when you find you are running low on enthusiasm, you’ll have a plan of action.

If you’d like us to help you just give us a call: 01628 890516.