Five Ways to Stay Motivated While Learning A Language

(ESL learners – click on the bolded words to see explanations and notes. Try the exercise at the bottom after to keep them in your memory! 🙂 )

I’ll admit it: I’m a language freak.

Heck, I’ll shout it from the mountains, even! I love languages. I love learning them, I love using them, I love scratching my head over them, and I even love struggling over them. I love the way they challenge me, each in a different yet oh-so-satisfying way.

You might be wondering, “where does this girl get all her energy to study languages?”

I’ll concede it’s not always a walk in the park. It can be a tiring process, grueling even.

But if it really means a lot to you, there are ways to push through those slumps and keep your motivation high. Here I’ll share five tips with you on how to do just that!

1. Put it on your weekly goals or to-do list

If you know me at all, you’ll know I looove lists. If this is not for you, feel free to skip this section!

I find there’s huge satisfaction in being able to physically check something off a list, whether it’s on a piece of paper or on your phone.

  • It makes your goal more concrete
  • It lets you commit to it more
  • And it provides a greater sense of fulfilment.

If you’re looking for an app to help you do this, I personally love using Strides. It is a very well-designed and easy-to-use app that offers four different types of goals that you can track: project, good/bad habit, average, and target.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can find out more about them here.

2. Team up with a buddy and keep track of progress

Everything is more fun when done with a friend!

If you don’t know anyone who’s trying to learn the same language as you, find someone who wants to reach any kind of goal. You can keep yourselves accountable and give each other encouragement for your respective objectives.

This can be done simply by text — which would also give you an excellent reason to stay in regular touch and strengthen your bond! Or, you can go for a multi-user goal tracking app, such as nTask, to both submit and share your checked off “milestones” in the same system.

I personally haven’t tried nTask, but it appears to be very well designed and (at least at the time of writing this) offers a free plan. Check them out here if you’re interested.

3. Use a Fun Language-Learning App

One of the most popular language-learning apps out there is Duolingo, but there are many others. Some are specific to one language and others cater to a wide range of options.

I’ve been focusing a lot on learning Chinese lately, so my favorites at the moment are Chineasy and Du Chinese. If you’re looking for apps for a particular language, do a Google or YouTube search for “top apps to learn XYZ”, and you’ll be able to have your pick from a great many suggestions.

The most important thing is that the app is user-friendly, looks visually appealing, and caters to your specific goals and interests (writing-based or video-based, particular topics such as current world news or fiction, business or general, etc.).

4. Find a way to incorporate the language in your daily life

You can do this in two ways:

  1. incorporate the language into one of your hobbies, or
  2. incorporate it into one of your other goals.

As for hobbies, there are tons of ways you can easily practice a foreign language:

  • movies/TV series
  • podcasts
  • books
  • social media accounts
  • YouTube videos
  • video games
  • conversation club

For other goals, it may be take a bit more creativity, but there is always a way.

One idea is to look up tips for one of your goals in the language you want to learn. This could include reading articles, watching videos, or even enrolling in courses on the topic.

So for example, if your goal is to become very fit, you could watch fitness videos in the language you’re trying to learn. This is a great way to learn lots of useful vocabulary relevant to your interests.

Alternatively, you can also try to journal or keep track of your progress by writing in your target language.

5. Make new friends

In my opinion, the top fun way of staying motivated to learn a language is to make friends who are native speakers of that language.

There are many ways to do this:

  • find a language exchange group in your city, or join a virtual one
  • find a pen-pal or one-on-one tandem partner
  • join an expat group or club related to the culture of the language, such as a book club, dance club, or cooking club;
  • or even just attend any kind of events that interest you and talk to people!

If this is not possible for you, the next best thing you can do is find a language teacher focused on conversation.

I’ve done this for every language I am actively learning and it’s probably the number one thing that keeps me motivated to review, study, and practice a language.

What’s important is that the teacher you choose is someone you can feel relaxed with and truly enjoy speaking to.

Well, that’s all for now! I hope some of these tips will prove helpful to you. If you’re currently learning a language, commit to trying one of the tips above to see if it can be of value to you.

If you’ve got any more tips that aren’t included here, show some love to fellow language-learners like you and leave them in the comments below. I’m sure the other readers would love to hear them!

Disclaimer: I am not a sponsor or affiliated in any way with any of the brands or companies mentioned in this post.

ESL Notes (14 words / expressions)

Definitions written with reference to Cambridge Dictionary

a … buff: a “XYZ buff” is a person who knows a lot about XYZ and is very interested in it. For example, a history buff knows a lot about history and is very interested in history. An opera buff loves watching opera and knows a lot about opera. Etcetera. (Back to the text)

to scratch your head over: a figure of speech for “be confused about”. A similar expression is “it’s a real head-scratcher”, which means “it’s a mystery” or “it’s confusing”. (Back to the text)

to struggle over something: have difficulties with. “Struggle” is often used with the preposition “with”, for example “I really struggle with math”, or with an infinitive verb, for example “I struggle to understand politics.” When you use “over”, the idea is that you’re trying to study a topic and you struggle while learning or studying that topic, as if you are sitting at a desk “over” books about that topic. (Back to the text)

to concede: (formal) admit, often unwillingly, that something is true. (Back to the text)

a walk in the park: something easy. (Back to the text)

grueling: extremely tiring and difficult, demanding great effort and determination. (Back to the text)

to push through something: (informal) overcome something, to keep going despite difficulties. (Back to the text)

a slump: a fall or decrease in something (in this case, motivation and energy). to push through something: (informal) overcome something, to keep going despite difficulties. (Back to the text)

to check something off: to put a checkmark beside something in order to show that the task has been completed. (Back to the text)

a bond: a connection joining two people. (Back to the text)

to cater to someone/something: to provide what a specific group of people wants or needs. (Back to the text)

to have your pick: to be able to choose from a large amount of options. (Back to the text)

a great many: another way to say “very many” or “a lot of”. (Back to the text)

to keep track of: to keep a record of something so you remember what has happened. For example, lists are a great way to keep track of things you have to do. (Back to the text)

fellow: used to refer to someone who has the same job or interests as you, or is in the same situation as you. For example, “Our fellow travelers were mostly Spanish-speaking tourists.” (Back to the text)


Want to start using these words and make sure you don’t forget them? Try this exercise! Think about these questions (discuss them with someone) or write down your answers, using the word or expression in your discussion or answer.

  • Are you a buff of anything? (Use “I’m a … buff” to answer, and elaborate.)
  • What subject did you struggle with the most in school? What do you struggle with the most at work?
  • Think about a hobby or activity that you love. (a sport, a skill, your job, taking care of kids, etc.). What’s something negative about it that you can concede? (ex: I absolutely adore taking care of children, but I’ll concede that…)
  • What’s a job or role that a lot of people admire or envy? (being a model, an actor, a celebrity, cake tester, etc.). Write a short passage about that role describing why it isn’t always so easy. Use an a sentence similar to “People might think …. is super easy, but the truth is it’s not always a walk in the park. Many times, …”
  • What’s the most intense physical exercise you’ve done? Describe it using “grueling“.
  • Do you think being able to check “to-do”s off a list makes people more motivated to do them?
  • In what cultures are there very strong family bonds, in your opinion? How do you think family bonds influence happiness and wellbeing?
  • What kind of bars and restaurants do you enjoy going to? Use “cater to” in your answer. (ex: I especially love going restaurants that cater to vegan and environmentally aware customers.)
  • What is there a lot of in your city? Use “a great many” in your answer.
  • How do you keep track of your friends’ and families’ birthdays?
  • What do many of your colleagues, or people who share the same hobby as you, do? Make a sentence using “fellow“. For example “My fellow graphic designers believe that…” or “My fellow English-learning friends often use…”.

Feel free to try writing some more sentences, or a text, of your own to practice some more.

Thank you for reading! These ESL notes, links and exercises each take several hours to make, so if you found this useful, the kindest thing you can do is to like the post, leave a comment, or share with anyone who needs it. Have questions about any other words? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply!

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