Learning Russian Pt. 4: Motivation and continuing study21-Mar-2013
As I’m sure many of you are aware, and as I’ve mentioned briefly in a previous post, one of the most difficult things about learning a new language (or any new skill) is finding the time to keep at it. I’m facing this challenge as we speak, as I currently have a month-long gap between my last class of this course, and the next set of classes. No matter how much you enjoy something, it’s always tough finding the time outside of work, family and other commitments. So how can you or your students make time for extra study outside of the classroom? Here are my top tips.
You’ll never stick to an over-ambitious plan. If you make a plan for yourself and secretly think “I’ll never manage that”, then you won’t, so set yourself achievable goals. It’ll be much better if you successfully learn one new word every other day, than if you aim to do too much and don’t even manage to do it.
Make it fun
Anything is easier if you enjoy it. Rather than sitting through a dry grammar text book and doing verb conjugations for an hour, find a magazine or newspaper online in the language you’re learning, and read about or listen to something that actually interests you.
Use spare time effectively
I find it impossible to do anything with my Russian during the week other than class. I get home too late to fit in any practice: as much as I’d like to, I’m just too busy, or too tired! But my weekends are relatively free, so if I don’t do anything in the week, I know I’ll always have time at the weekend. I also use long journeys, such as when I’m going to visit friends, to squeeze in some extra work.
If you plan better, you’ll work better, and you’ll get better results. I’ve pre-loaded my phone with my Russian CD so that when I’m out and about and don’t have access to the internet, I can still expose myself to the language. Little things like this mean you can squeeze in extra practice when you least expect it, such as when your train is delayed (a regular occurrence if you’re a city dweller!). Carry around a workbook, or a reader and a dictionary, so that you can work on the go, or at lunchtime. You need to make it manageable. Sometimes, I even make sure that the only book I have on me is my Russian workbook, so that it’s my only option on my hour-long commute!
And most importantly…
Don’t beat yourself up
We all lead very busy lives. If you don’t manage to do any study in a week, don’t be so hard on yourself. If you punish yourself for “not working hard enough”, it will quickly become a chore and you’ll never want to study again! Of course, if you’re preparing for an exam, or you have a deadline, you might want to apply this rule sparingly! But understand that if you miss some self-set homework or don’t get round to the task you had aimed to do, you can make up for it another day by working 15 minutes longer.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience of learning a new language, and that perhaps it’s inspired you to take the plunge as well!
Read more about Becca’ journey through the Russian language by following the links below.