What do you do when your motivation dips?

Just thought it would be interesting to see how different language learners deal with dips in motivation when frustration becomes too much? I’ve been learning Spanish for over a year now, and there have been ups and downs like with everyone. Right now the journey seems to really be taking it’s toll as there just seems sooo many words to learn and the fact I still can’t understand general conversation after more than 12 months of studying the language angers me alot.

so my question is not regarding my particular problems, Just wondering how you guys deal with slumps in motivation and what you do during these times?

That’s a tough one. What works for me is to take it easy for a while, study a little less. But it’s important not to stop altogether, just take the foot off the gas for a bit. I try also to approach the language from a different angle, start doing wordlists or reading differents kinds of texts, or even go back and do very basic texts again, and retrace my steps in a second wave (as called in the Assimil series).

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I think regarding to motivation, I always try to keep it with me because it’s what makes me move on, wanting to learn more and more, sometimes I try to look inspiration from others, for example polyglots like steve, luca, benny, etc. and I pay attention about what they say or I also try to do different things meaning writing, or trying to speak with someone, in my opinion motivation really depends on each one, you have to find what motivates you to learn another language.

My motivation dramatically dips from time to time. I have many different interests, and the problem is that, at times, one particular interest may overtake and greatly overshadow the others. The thing for me is to maintain a balance; to be self-disciplined, on the one hand, but also considerate of my feelings and desires, on the other.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind WHY you’re learning a second language. When I realize that I’ve neglected my language studies for far too long, I start to fantasize about my target destinations; about how much better and richer an experience it will be to know the language of that nation upon visiting. Another thing is to think about all the fascinating culture you have access to knowing a second language.

Watch linguists online too. Steve, Moses, et al, have often rekindled a great enthusiasm within me to get back to language-learning and/or to study harder and longer.

To me, the main thing is to let go of feeling angry with yourself. As Steve says, exposure to the language by reading and listening to comprehensible content causes your brain to learn naturally. We do not have much control over what we actually learn from this exposure, but we need to simply trust our brain to do its job. I have been learning German for almost two years now and am at present visiting Germany. Before I came I had spoken only a very few words in German, other than repeating what I heard and read in the lessons in LingQ, and in other places such as books and other online material. Here in Germany I find that I am able to understand a lot of what people are saying to me, and that I can make myself understood reasonably well.

I also remember feeling the way you do when I had been learning for about a year, and wondering if the time I was spending was getting me closer to my goals. I now find that listening to material that I can easily understand about 90% without using hints, as well as working with material that I need lots of hints for, is working well. I can listen to the easy stuff in the train, while exercising and so forth, and the other stuff when I sit at the computer or read a book with occasional use of a dictionary. I ignore parts of the text that I cannot understand unless certain words are needed to make the overall meaning clear.

Relax, enjoy the process and give yourself time. And, if possible, go to Spain and get in touch with the language in its local context.

I remember a physics teacher who told his students, “If you have a normal brain, you can all learn!”

Another comment, do not think of ‘studying’, think rather of ‘understanding’ the material. The learning will happen by itself.

If you are feeling frustrated and fed up then EITHER:
You have set yourself unrealistic goals OR
you are doing really unrewarding activities in order to reach them.

when I first started with LingQ I had no real idea how long it took to learn languages, and what milestones I would reach along the way. After 4 years I realise that it takes much longer than I first realised to learn a language, but also that it can be done through activities that really don’t feel like work at all.

@Corin Wright: "I still can’t understand general conversation after more than 12 months of studying the language angers me alot. "
Where did you get this goal from? Did you consider how many hours listening you would have to do to get there? Cos I would guess that it would take 800 - 1000 hours of listening to Spanish. That’s pretty ambitious in just one year. Do you know roughly how many you’ve done?

I struggle as well. Sometimes, I don’t have motivation and other days I do. When I speak to my friend who is a native french speaker. I feel more motivated when I chat to him. I really like the responses here and I agree with them. When I’m stressed out with the language, I take a day off or I re think about my goals and I study little bits of the language. From what I’ve learned from my own experiences, if you’re not motivated, you aren’t going to achieve a lot whereas if you had a lot you will do a lot. I think it’s important to not feel stressed and just understand the brain will understand the language soon. I have been studying french for a couple of months and I can already pick out words and sentences. It’s not a lot but it’s an achievement for me. It’s a whole lot better since I first started learning french. I agree, we have to trust the brain. My brain is slow xD I’m a slow learner but I need a lot of patience too.

@Everyone All really useful stuff guys. Perhaps i’ve answered my own question. When I start feeling demotivated or down I come onto the forums on Lingq and have a little moan and then regroup after reading some helpful advice :stuck_out_tongue:

@SkyBlueTeaPot I would say my total hours listened would be inbetween 200-400. so…a lot less than 800-1000, just out of interest where did you get the 800-1000 number from? I think I’m starting to realise that learning a language takes longer than I originally thought too, sometimes every now and then, because things get so routine, I find I start focussing less in general and not concentrating as much whilst reading and listening, which then means I usually have to refocus myself to concentrate. I generally seem to think “If i’m not finding the work challenging then I’m not actually learning anything”

I am also studying spanish and now for only about 6 months. I have had ups and downs but mostly ups. I can’t tell you what will combat your lulls in motivation but I can tell you what I do in study strategy and what my motivation boosters are.
Study strategy: For the first 4 months I listened to Pimsleur Spanish “that I got from a friend” ;). This system had some pros as well as cons. This was before finding lingq. As for lingq I download about 7-10 lessons at a time making and listen to them on my way to and from work (45 min each way). When I have a hard time with a word I log on and read it a bunch of times making sure I understand the meaning and spelling. I try to make sure I complete a set of lessons such as “Absolute Beginner” or “Spanish Beginners”. After that I will move on to other sets and possibly different type of material all together. When I am on my way home and don’t feel like doing another lesson I put on some Spanish music. I found quite a few songs that have a nice relaxing beat and sing slow enough for me to understand and sing along. On the weekend I don’t usually listen to lessons on my ipod but chat with people on skype, not voice chat but typing. I have found that I can usually keep up and any words that I don’t yet understand I can quickly look them up at spanishdict.com. For voice chat I try to find people that don’t know much english, that way I can’t cheat myself. We both have to work at it. It is a little difficult to find people on skype for a routine chat but I do have a few. To find people go to the skype community and post something on both the spanish and english boards with your skype id. Before you know it you’ll have a bunch of requests.
Motivation boosters: When I am feeling blue about the language I just say to myself that I started June 1st and it would be a shame to give up now. Or usually changing study tactics for a day or two such as listening to music of watching a movie (without subtitles) that I have seen more than a few times. You can also watch videos of some of the polyglots on skype. One in particular on youtube that I find very motivational is FluentCzech Anthony Lauder - YouTube Some of the audio isn’t be best but the content is great. Two videos specifically I’ve seen a few times help me (the first one more than the second).

“Become a polyglot in minutes not years”: Become a Polyglot in Minutes not Years - YouTube
“Thinking in a foreign language”: Thinking in a Foreign Language? - YouTube

Hopefully this helps. Don’t give up!!

@Corin: in an article I can’t find anymore (I didn’t use Evernote back then). Bums.

Basically this guy reckoned that, depending on how similar your target language and your native language are, between 400 - 1000 hours of active listening will get you basic conversational competence, double it will give you a reasonable level of conversation fluency. For myself, after 1200 hours or so of Russian I’m able to take part in a conversation about language learning, though I can’t express myself very well.

But then, there are other people who say 10 000 hours, which is frankly a bit depressing for most of us. see How Long Does it Take to Learn a New Language? | Learning, Teaching and Leadership. After listening to 10 000 hours of Russian I would hope to be able to speak it like a native.

@Corin again:
Ah, I’ve found the LingQ forum post which quotes the article which I can’t find. It was by David Martin (thanks David) and I’ll reproduced it here (because I can’t think how to link to just one forum post in a long thread):
This is an excerpt from an article called ‘Learning Languages Like Children’ from Blog - ALG World Automatic Language Growth

Learning usually depends on the varying levels of intelligence, motivation, and hard work of the students, and the usual way to measure this learning is to test each student. But natural language acquisition depends only on exposure; so it’s a lot easier (and a lot more accurate) to just measure the amount of exposure (actually the amount of understanding). With babies we measure their progress by their age. If someone says her little boy is 21 months old, that tells us more about how much language he knows than any test could. For children and adults, though, the rate of input is far less constant than it is with babies, and we have to find a way to count or estimate the number of hours of talk they have understood. (This is the subject of the next section.)
As a result of years of study and more than 40 years of observing the progress and abilities of literally thousands of students of second languages from over 50 different countries and cultures, we have found the following equation to be remarkably accurate. (Please note that as you read through this section and follow the development of it, you may be tempted to discount our conclusions based on your own experience or that of someone you know. If you save your exceptions until later and follow our reasoning however, you will probably see that we account for such factors as our thoughts develop.)
where y is how much language they know (1 = native).

x is how many hours they have understood.

k is the acquisition constant: .0018

e is the natural logarithm base: 2.718
If a student accumulates 1000 hours of understanding Thai, for example, his acquisition of Thai will be 83%.
Or if we want to know how long it would take a student to get to 90% (this is a degree of fluency that structural students hardly ever attain), the equation tells us 1300 hours of understanding.
We usually think of complete immersion as the ultimate in exposure, but let’s look at a typical example. Suppose you’re exposed to speaking situations for 8 hours a day (meals, chatting, games, etc.). This isn’t non-stop talking, though, and it may come to only 4 hours of actual talk. And if half of this talk is your own, that’s only 2 hours of listening. An if you’re understanding 50%, that’s only 1 hour of understanding a day. It would take you almost 4 years to accumulate the 1400 hours needed to become ‘fluent’. (We use ‘fluent’ to mean ‘speaking correctly and without hesitation about everyday matters’ : roughly, y = 88%).
More often, foreigners live with their own families, and their exposure consists only of managing their daily affairs in the new language. This may seem like a lot of exposure, but when you add up the few seconds here and few seconds there and multiply this by your percentage of understanding, it rarely exceeds 10 minutes a day. At this rate, fluency would take 23 years.
Hours of understanding isn’t always clear in terms of months and years: normal life is so irregularly packed with talk, and talk is so irregularly understood. But ALG classes consist of non-stop talking and offer a much higher percentage of understanding than real life does.

Our first equation assumed that the student was doing everything right. This always works for children, but only occasionally for adults. For even though adults can do it right, they usually don’t. So the measure of how correctly an adult does it (we’ll call it C, for ceiling) becomes a crucial addition to our equation. It will be convenient to express C as a percentage, so y will also be a percentage; and 100 instead of 1, will be the measure of a native speaker.

Now to figure out how much a student knows (y), we’ve got to know how many hours (h) the student has experienced, how much he has understood (u), and how he has been processing those experiences. (C).

h is simply the student’s attendance.

u can be estimated from the student’s ‘responses’ during each hour. (We all tend to monitor a person’s understanding in normal communication though we are normally unconscious of doing this.)

C can be estimated from how much or little the student tries to repeat what he hears, the sort of questions asked, etc.

Periodically, the guides enter grades for the students based on their own perceptions. Once entered into the computer, we are able to monitor student progress. The average understanding grade for students is around 80%. Ceilings vary much more, but for a typical, adult student who begins with ALG the ceiling average is around 95%.

The first 13 students to show signs of natural speaking in our ALG classes were Chinese and Southeast Asians – even though the majority of our students were Westerners. It was only after we expanded our course to more than 1000 hours that other students started to reach this level. We soon saw that any level that required 1000 for Westerners and Japanese could be reached in about 800 hours by Chinese and about 600 hours by Southeast Asians. This suggested a ‘language ease’ factor (L) for our equation. For the Chinese learning Thai, L = .8; and for most Southeast Asians, L = .6.

y = C(1-e-kx/L)
The language ease has come to be called the Native Language Factor but there is more and more evidence that culture rather than language is the bigger influence.
So far, we have had little experience with the native language factor from English to French, German, and Spanish; but if Malaysian-Thai is .6 without the help of cognate vocabulary (the languages aren’t related and the only similarities are in culture and type of grammar), we would expect something more like .4 for these European languages. These and other guesses are shown below. Readers with better information can sharpen up these guesses. The hours and weeks refer to the amount of time required to reach a fluency of 88%. For the calculations below, the understanding factor is set to .8 and the ceiling factor is set to .95.
L Factor Examples Hours

1.0 English-Thai 1800

1.0 Japanese-Thai 1800

.8 Chinese-Thai 1450

.6 Malay-Thai 1100

.4 English-French 720

.4 English-German 720

.4 English-Spanish 720

.2 Portuguese-Spanish 370

.1 Thai-Laotian 180

.1 Norwegian-Swedish 180

.06 Norwegian-Danish 110

The original thread and post may be read here: http://www.lingq.com/forum/1/4224/

To maybe sum up skyblueteapots post it is basically the Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule) Pareto principle - Wikipedia

I think 80% of my brain understood about 20% of the Pareto Principle.

The last paragraph seems to say: English - Spanish (or vice versa) = 720 hours.

Where did I get 400 hours from? Must have been another article.

Basically you can just think of a number and double it, I think :wink:

that post makes for a very interesting read. I think i’ll have to sit down soon and try to digest it properly :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, it’s because the equation figures in the percentage of unknown words in what you’re listening to. So 400 hours may be a theoretical lower limit, assuming you understand 100% of the words as you hear them. In practice, there will always be a proportion of meaning that you don’t get because there will be unfamiliar words or phrases, or even familiar phrases spoken fast or in an unfamiliar accent, so in practice you need to listen to more hours of input. 720 hours builds in enough redundancy for you to learn new words and phrases from the context you hear them in.

(I think that’s what it means, anyway).

Unless you have a good way of measuring how much of what you hear you are understanding, you can’t really go rely too much on theoretical models.

I’ve been learning czech now for a year, and am a little disheartened with the lack of progress. I live in prague, and have a czech family, but it’s still such a struggle. I took a break over christmas and am going to focus on it again now. I’m hoping this šecond year will really bear fruit.

Thing is if Spanish is 720 hours i’d guess czech is double that.

Now using memrise tool to increase my vocab


Stick with it people.