How many times have you said, “I should start that course… but not today, it’s been a hard week and I need at least two days off!“, or “Between work, family, and social life I really can’t study…” ? Well, these are excuses because we all have busy lives and many things to do, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t dedicate a few minutes a day to the study of a foreign language! Of course, during such a learning process you always reach a moment where you lose your motivation… and start to procrastinate… but don’t worry, I’m here to help you! In this article, I will give you 6 helpful tips to keep studying Italian -or any other foreign language- even when you really don’t feel like doing it!
TIPS TO FIGHT PROCRASTINATION
In this article I will help you find your motivation to study a foreign language thanks to 6 great pieces of advice!
1: PLAN AND ORGANIZE…
It might sound trivial but organizing helps to study – so my tip is that you prepare a study plan for the whole week, in which you write everything neatly, so that you can make the most of your time.
It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule that you have to stick to without ‘ifs and buts’, such as: “on Monday, from 1:15 am to 11:15 am I have to study these words and if I don’t do so, I will never improve” – this would only cause needless anxiety. Instead, you should use it as a foundation, a starting point that will help you make things clear and know what to study or practice every single day.
Let me show you an example – this is the study plan I have been using lately to learn Spanish:
|MONDAY||Learn new vocabulary for 10 minutes|
|TUESDAY||Read news in Spanish and write down new words on personal flashcards (to study next Monday)|
|WEDNESDAY||Make revisions and practice pronunciation (watch a video and repeat sentences aloud after I hear them)|
|THURSDAY||Session with a native speaker|
|FRIDAY||Watch YouTube video in Spanish, transcript it, write the new words on flashcards (to study next Monday)|
|SATURDAY||Make revision and watch a movie in Spanish|
|SUNDAY||Watch a series on the couch…in Spanish, obviously!|
Está funcionando? Me parece que sí, pero el tiempo nos lo dirá.
I want to add a short parenthesis: if one day you want to do something more, do not tell yourself “I can’t, today is not the right day” – wrong! If you feel like it, do it! Do not limit yourself: in this article we are trying to fight the lack of motivation, not motivation itself!
2: LIMIT YOURSELF, DO NOT STOP!
We often create mental blocks and convince ourselves that we have to respect them, or things will go wrong – we won’t learn, and we won’t make any progress. Well, for some being under pressure makes them very productive… fair enough! But it shouldn’t be the norm. Over time, mental pressure will become unbearable and will not help with motivation, on the contrary!
So, what should you do when you know you should do something, but you just don’t have the desire?
An idea would be to proceed in small doses: establish a time limit to devote to this activity and stick to it. This will make such activity easy to tolerate and to make it last over time, and you will eventually see some progress – remember that all progress is important, and it doesn’t matter how small or big it is!
For example, I don’t particularly like to study new foreign words, which is why I have decided to limit it to just 10 minutes on Mondays… and nothing more. My vocabulary might advance slowly, but I know that in a year, those 10 minutes a week will have turned into many new words.
3: DO NOT DISAPPOINT!
What I’m talking about? I’m talking about all those things that push us and force us to meet our schedules and to do all we need to. Are you learning a foreign language? Great… do not keep it to yourself. Tell a friend who knows that language well, or that is a native speaker; then organize a day in which you decide to only speak that language. An example? A student of mine, who is American, has a weekly coffee meeting with an Italian friend of hers, and when they meet, they only speak Italian. This motivates her during the week because she wants to make a good impression on her friend.
An alternative would be to join a group on Facebook or Telegram – a group where people share your passion, I mean, so that you can exchange ideas, advice or feedback.
Or you could even plan a class with a native-speaker tutor – many students tell me: “You have given me this task last week, and you have forced me to think about this topic all week long because today I wanted to show you that I worked hard!“
4: SOME PRACTICALITY!
One of the reasons why people often can’t develop a passion or simply lose motivation easily is because whatever they’re doing seems distant from their own lives and future goals. You may be thinking that you are studying something abstract (especially when it comes to grammar), something that will prove to be useful – in short, you feel like you are wasting your time. Well, ask you teacher or search for yourself, how a particular piece of information can be practically applied in everyday life… the results might surprise you and even reconsider your method!
Let’s say that you are currently learning the subjunctive tense and you are thinking “Why do I have to learning when not even Italians know how to use it properly?” – in this case, I challenge you: star reading more books or newspapers, watching videos, films or TV series, listening to radio or podcasts… are you sure you never ever hear people use it? And when you do hear it, are you sure that it always used improperly?
5: FOR EVERY DUTY, A TREAT…
Studying a language must not nullify your interests and pleasures in any way! To face a task adequately and find that bit of desire we lose way too often, it is necessary to counterbalance the situation and take a break to enjoy our free time doing whatever we like.
Such breaks allow us to maintain our health, our well-being… and our motivation! For example, when I study Spanish, I tell myself: “Alright, I finish this exercise, then I go out on a walk!“, or “As soon as I finish translating this paragraph, I take a relaxing bath“, or “If I understand this video on the first try, I’ll buy myself a new t shirt“! I promise that if you put this tip into practice, every single hour spent studying will seem more productive… and every single break will be fulfilling, satisfying!
6: HOW SCARY!
Another reason why people can’t find motivation is the fear of failing – the fear of a bad mark, for example. I often hear people saying things like “Oh no, the passato remoto (preterit) is so hard I don’t even want to start studying it“. I get it, not understanding a topic on the first try, or failing an exam isn’t fun – but is it really such a defeat that we decide to give everything up? Of course not! Keep going and enjoy the journey… learning a language isn’t something that you can do in a week, you need time and perseverance – but trust me, every single second will be worth it!
I really hope that you enjoyed this article and that it will help you overcome the mental block that stands between you and studying, that fear that prevents you from moving forward and becoming good at a foreign language. Speaking of fears, if you also have the issue of not being able to speak, to practice your knowledge… do not worry, we have an article on how to fight shyness and speak Italian too!
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