If you’re like me, you’re amazed and in awe when you hear someone speaking in one language only to quickly switch and begin speaking in another one just as fluently. That really motivates me and makes me wish I could do the very same thing. I suppose you could call this my “WHY”. So ask yourself:
Why is it important to me to learn a second language?
Why is being bilingual important to me?
My initial response is: I want to learn to speak another language because I want to be able to speak with others of different nationalities as fluently as I speak to fellow English speakers.
I’ve heard it said by many linguists and multilingual individuals that your motivation is a key factor to your success learning another language. In fact, it’s been said that the fastest way to learn a new language is to fall in love with a person from another country, language, and culture. There is immediate and powerful motivation to learn their language, so you can communicate all the thoughts and feelings which flood your whole being!
So ask yourself, “Why do I want to learn a new language? Why is it important for me to be bilingual?” The clearer your “Why,” the more you will be motivated, and the more you will succeed.
What Are the Benefits of Knowing a Second Language for YOU?
Dig deeper! Your motivations might include:
- Traveling to new marvelous places
- Conversing with new and fascinating people
- Meeting an education requirement
- Experiencing new cuisine
- Reading key books or articles not written in my native language
- Engaging with key ideas and scholars
- Continuing self-discovery and growth
- Better understanding and appreciating the world around me
- Increasing my brain health
- Mastering an employment requirement or getting a better paying job
Get crystal clear on the benefits which really charge you up. Then daydream about it. Envision what it will be like when you are fluent in your new language. The clearer and more detailed your mental picture, the greater your motivation will be!
What Motivates You in General?
Are you a Leader or Follower? Are you the kind of person who needs a prod to get started? Here’s an over the top example: You are sitting on the couch enjoying a book, or a TV show, but you know it’s time to exercise. Do you get up on your own and move on to the next task, or do you need someone to literally come and pull you off the couch and start doing jumping jacks with you until you get the idea and follow the leader? Are you the “leader” or the “follower” in this scenario? If the “follower”, you may find benefit in a tutor or personal trainer for your language journey. Languages cannot be “taught” per se, only “learned”, so your tutor needs to be more of a guide, not a teacher. Someone who can encourage and direct, not hit you over the head with grammar and vocabulary. A guide will help you “discover” the language so you can see and understand its beauty.
Are you a reader and love to devour books? Being able to read in another language may also be a motivator for you. You can also use this motivator to help you learn. When we were children, we started with simpler books to acquire our own native language. Accordingly, start with children’s books in your new language of choice. There is so much you can learn from pictures, and the simple language, that you will soon be reading and learning in leaps and bounds. You can progress to harder books as you find you are able.
Are you fun-loving? There are many learning tools that are designed for learners who want the fun factor. Perhaps learning games would be helpful to you. You may also benefit from interactive programs. As soon as you are able to converse with a live person, speaking to someone else, sharing funny stories or telling jokes may be something that will benefit your learning. Not only will you learn the language, but you may learn some underlying cultural differences in what is humorous, etc. You may find programs that are less intense to be a better fit for you.
Do you strive for recognition? Some people are motivated by a success that is measurable. Some language learning options give awards for reaching certain plateaus of learning, so these might be the ones for you.
Are you a multi-tasker? If you are a highly organized person, you may be able to learn two languages at one time. You will have to truly organize your time well, and I would suggest if you try this that you select two languages that are closely related, like Spanish and Italian, as opposed to Swedish and Japanese.
Do you love to travel? If you immerse yourself in the country where your language originates, you will likely find a great benefit and accelerated learning.
Begin Today: Experience the Benefits of Being Multilingual
You may ask, what are the advantages of being bilingual? Many of these are listed in the motivational list found earlier in this article. The first and obvious one should be communicating with people; that’s what language is all about. Another stands out as possibly the greatest benefit that happens whether it is our motivation or not: our brains are positively affected. Research has show the cognitive benefits of being bilingual include: increased reading comprehension, the enhanced ability to process and organize our speech patterns, improved sense of logic, ability to focus and remember what we are learning, and improved decision making skills. These cognitive benefits should definitely help motivate us as we better ourselves.
Whatever your motivation, the important thing is to find a method that works for you so you can start learning today! Experiment with several different learning tools and motivators discussed here. Be guided by your interests and convictions.
Here are a few famous quotes I’d like to share as I always appreciate when I know others are interested in the same thing I am, that I’m not alone.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” ‒ Nelson Mandela
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” ‒ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” ‒ Charlemagne
Learning to speak multiple languages should not be intellectual drudgery. There are many advantages of being bilingual, but it is an act of love toward yourself for enlightening your knowledge, and also others in your appreciation for them. It is a time to discover the amazing diversity that makes up our world. Human nature is a beautiful thing and to uncover some of the facets of this beauty is a gift. Enjoy yourself and be motivated today!