The language teacher stands in front of an auditorium full of Spanish students and asks: What´s the hardest part about learning Spanish? “The subjunctive mood”, shouts one. “No, No, No.. it´s the application of gender”, hollers another. “Uh, Uh. You´re both wrong” blurts out a third. “It´s the way vocabulary and the use of personal pronouns varies between Spanish speaking countries”. In fact, they are all wrong. The hardest part of learning Spanish online, on your own, or in a classroom, is keeping yourself motivated. And that´s because, as the audience righty points out, there are a ton of pitfalls and challenges to surpass before one can master the language.
So, this begs the question: How can learners keep themselves motivated from start to finish? There is no simple answer, but in this Ted Talks video, Professor Scott Geller provides us with some insight into what keeps learners moving forward.
I hope you have the time to watch the video. In it, Scott lists a few different factors that ought to be present in order for self-motivation to exist. I´d like to summarize some of them here.
First, students should feel that they have a choice about the study matter. Without a feeling of choice, learning becomes an obligation – and as he points out – it suddenly becomes much less fun.
What about you? How do you frame your reasons for learning Spanish? Do you want to study Spanish to avoid failure, or to seek success? According to Scott, if you adopt the mindset that learning Spanish puts you on the path to success as opposed to thinking that you need to learn it to protect your job, you´ll get the benefit of a boost to your motivation. And that´s the rub: only you can decide how to phrase that paradigm in your mind.
Scott also says that you need to remind yourself that achieving your learning goal is possible. From our perspective as online language teachers, we can vouch for the fact that it is possible. Millions upon millions of people have successfully learnt a foreign language – and this is important – most of them without the tremendous benefit of online language programs, such as Web Spanish, that make learning so much easier than traditional methods.
Another tip Scott talks about is the value of building community into your learning process. You ought to feel like you as a learner are part of something much larger than just yourself. For an online Spanish student, this means interacting with other learners, or better yet, with native Spanish speakers. It means checking out Spanish-language movies, soap operas, music, or whatever interests you. Community: if you can´t find it, build it.
Check out the video on Ted Talks and let us know if you have any special tricks you use to keep yourself motivated while you learn Spanish. Good luck with your studies, and as Scott Geller would say, remember to remind yourself you can do it, and you´re not alone.