There are some people who get excited by the mere prospect of learning a new language, and it’s a well-known fact that being passionate about a language is key to helping you achieve fluency.
However, sometimes you’re required to learn a new language for a job, or a big move, or a number of other reasons but the language itself doesn’t incite anything beyond a lukewarm response in you.
Or maybe you’re simply not a language nerd and the idea of learning any language sounds like a painful process. The good news is, that while passion certainly helps, it isn’t the decide-all factor to whether or not you can acquire a new tongue.
So read on for some great tips to help you learn a language when you don’t like learning languages!
Approach it as a means to an end
Language can be a great tool to helping you communicate with others, land better jobs, and be able to travel the world more freely. But you don’t need to be passionate about how the tool works in order to make good use of it!
Instead of getting bogged down by the details of a language’s history, or the roots of its words, or how it relates to other languages, look at a language as a means to an end. Be clear about your goals so you can use your language knowledge accordingly.
Are you learning it for a job? Then focus your energy on figuring out the best ways to use it in a business setting. Do you want to be able to communicate with locals while traveling? Don’t waste time with a perfectionist approach, find ways to start talking now—even if you end up butchering the language a lot.
The more you use it, the more adept you become at it, and the more you’ll come to enjoy conquering that new tongue!
Approach it with out-of-the-box methods
Even those of us who enjoy learning new languages find the idea of sitting down with textbooks to be incredibly dull and boring. Imagine what that’s like for someone who doesn’t like language learning!
Instead of using only traditional learning methods, how about turning it into a sensory experience? Listening to music or watching movies are the most obvious sensory-friendly means of making learning more fun, but what about trying your hand at a little cooking too? Find a recipe in your target language and bake a traditional dish from scratch! Whether or not the dish ends up being edible, you’ll have had a memorable experience where you interacted with the language and tried doing something new and exciting with it.
You can apply this to other aspects of your life by trying out yoga classes, joining book clubs, or attending wine tastings in your target tongue. Make the process as fun as possible and learning will be a lot easier.
Approach it as a means to more friends
You may not be motivated by the idea of learning a language, but using it can be a whole different matter. Most of us would probably jump past the learning stage and straight to the using stage if we could!
Finding language exchange partners and making friends who speak your target language is an excellent way to stop looking at it as learning a language and instead feel like you’re actually using it. If you’re not keen to try talking to people face-to-face just yet, corresponding with a pen pal is great for helping you to put your language skills to use in a more relaxed manner.
Writing a letter in a foreign language will help you to acquire new vocabulary, put sentences together in a coherent manner, and read and write more proficiently too! An added bonus is that you’ll have time to think about what you want to say, and need not fear being suddenly tongue-tied when you forget a word or phrase.
Approach it with your own materials
As we mentioned above, using textbooks as a learning device can be a dry way to approach a new language. How about spicing up your learning a bit with your own materials? Do you enjoy reading the news?
Find a news site that offers your daily updates in your target tongue. Find people who speak the language on social media and follow them so you’re exposed to little snippets throughout the day (and you’ll pick up some slang too). If you like checking out travel blogs (or any other type of blog), look up bloggers that write in the language you’re learning.
Personally, I enjoy scrolling through Buzzfeed, so I’ve made sure to set it to French so I’m more motivated to practice reading in that language! Figure out the things you enjoy, then find a way to mold them to help with your language learning.
Do you not like learning new languages? What are some of the things that keep you motivated and on track?