Feeling Discouraged by Your Language Learning Efforts?

It’s a new year, which means lots of new goals are in the air along with plenty of motivation to accomplish them. Some of us have started learning new languages and some of us have decided to conquer new challenges with their current target languages.

But what about those of us who haven’t added a new language to their to-do lists or those of us who haven’t quite managed to meet last year’s challenges?

The holiday distractions are over, but, for whatever reason, you’re already behind on your goals.

Well, at least I am.

New Year, Same Challenges?

I decided to try the 30-Day Speaking Challenge with French to kick off the new year. Instead, life has kept me a bit more preoccupied than I’d hoped.

Speaking has always been a challenge for me, mostly because I’m a bit self-conscious. I’d hoped to finally tackle it. In my mind, it’s one of the main things that kept my French from improving last year (along with my terrible habits).

Unfortunately, the extra focus on speaking French also means less time for Spanish and Japanese. I have a tendency to be a little too ambitious, but the fact is that 2018 wasn’t great for reaching my language goals.

Hence, the discouragement.

Maybe you’ve got a similar story or maybe you’re starting off the year a little discouraged for a different reason. Either way it’s no fun.

So, what do you do?

Start by Looking Back

Even if you don’t make a resolution this year and even if you’ve already fallen behind on all the things you meant to do, setting aside some time to reflect on the past year can help you figure out where you need to go now.

Make a list, a chart, a picture, or anything else you need to do to think about all the goals you had for 2018. Be sure to remember your accomplishments as well.

In 2018…

  • I found some great resources to learn Japanese, but I probably bounced around too much once I felt like I wasn’t making real progress.
  • I realized my Spanish comprehension is a lot better than I first thought, which is good because I don’t enjoy reviewing the basics.
  • I improved my French listening to the point where I can listen to a lot of really neat podcasts and watch videos without feeling overwhelmed, but it’s still not where I want to be. Plus, my speaking is pretty terrible.

After you’ve reflected, meditated, or visualized how you went about learning your target language(s) last year, use what you know about yourself and your goals to explore why those things didn’t work out the way you expected.

Did you try to do too much? Did you have trouble making actionable plans? Did you forget to have fun?

Don’t worry about making any sort of huge resolution for the year. Just come up with at least one thing you can do now.

For 2019…

  • I’m not giving up on the Speaking Challenge just yet! I’ll probably do it next month, too.
  • I’m going to order a textbook for Japanese to help keep me on track.

Honestly, I think I pushed myself to do everything instead of focusing on one thing I could work on in the moment. I’ll need to keep that in mind this year.

More importantly, I’ll have to continue to look back on what I’ve been doing whenever I start to get discouraged. I don’t want to be my own worst enemy and continue to neglect my target languages when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere.

Maybe I can find more ways to remind myself how much I really enjoy learning.

For now, my only advice is to take it one step at a time. Start somewhere and just look back if you feel like you’ve gotten sidetracked.

You’ll get there.


Featured Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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