Today we’re going to talk about language learning and the role motivation plays in helping you learn. Learning a new language is tough. It takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve our desired results. That is why it’s important that, as much as we can, we create a fun environment for ourselves to learn in. The key to creating this environment is to ensure the following qualities are present:
- You are motivated.
- You are interested in the material.
- You are working with material that is within your range of ability.
Ideally all three of these qualities work alongside one another to create your ideal learning environment. This can be done in a variety of ways, most notably, you can seek out and create resources yourself or you can hire a knowledgeable individual who can identify your needs and interests. They can help create this environment for you. This is true for learning any new skill. If we are motivated, interested, and able then we are more likely to quickly achieve our goals, all while having fun.
We want to ensure our motivation. It can be hard to be motivated all the time, but there are several important things we can do to make it far more likely that we begin activities. The key to motivation is getting ourselves to start an activity. Once we start something it is very likely that we will finish it. We are much more likely to want to start an activity if we are interested in it, if we understand our goals, if we understand our own abilities, and if we set up activities so that we receive feedback quickly.
We can think of motivation using this equation.
Motivation = (Value * Expectations) / (Impulsiveness * Delay)
Let’s break this down together.
Value is the usefulness of the activity or goal. If something we are about to do will give us value, then we are much more likely to feel motivated to complete it. For example, what is the reason you want to learn English? Is it for school or work? Do you want to be able to make new friends? Do you want to listen to English music, read English books, or watch English movies? Are you moving to or visiting an English speaking country and want to be able to communicate?
Frequently, learning a new language opens up new opportunities for us that we would not have access to otherwise. This could lead to making more money, or feeling more fulfilled with our jobs!
Expectations is how you perceive your ability to complete the activity or goal. If we undertake to do things that we believe are possible for us to do, we are much more likely to begin. For example, is it likely that you’ll be able to understand every single word in a new book, movie, or song? Of course not, if we lower our expectations from daunting perfectionism to a more manageable goal, we are much more likely to begin a new activity. Is it likely that we will achieve fluency or an IELTS score of 9.0 in a month? That isn’t likely to happen either. When we manage our expectations by understanding our abilities, it creates a much more comfortable environment that allows us to achieve managable goals and contributes to future motivation.
Impulsiveness is our tendency to become distracted by external forces. The best way to combat impulsivity is to create an environment that minimizes distraction. Many people find it difficult to concentrate in their homes, specifically their bedroom. Perhaps studying in a cafe or in a different room of your home, an office space for example, would limit the distracting factors and allow you to focus. The key to managing impulsivity is being aware of what causes us to become distracted and stopping them before they become a problem.
Finally, delay. If we can structure our goals so that they are readily achievable, then we will be much more motivated to begin. A simple example of this is comparing the goal of fluency to learning one new word a day. In the first instance, achieving fluency requires us to learn thousands of words. This process will take years and if we’re only starting out the end of this goal is very far away. This is discouraging and dissuades us from beginning. However, with a more manageable goal, we feel we can make achievements, and this motivates us to begin! Just think, if you learn one new word every day for a year that’s 365 new words! If you learn two, then you know 730!
Motivation is a valuable thing when it comes to achieving our goals. There are many ways to encourage our motivation including the tips we discussed today. Identifying value, managing expectations, impulsivity, and delay. Use these ideas to examine your own learning plans and refine them to create an environment that ensures your success. Remember our equation:
Motivation = ( Value * Expectations) / (Impulsivity * Delay)