The Motivation Myth in Language Learning
Do you need more motivation to learn English for business?
Do these problems sound familiar?
- “How do I get motivated to learn English every day?”
- “I know I need to improve my fluency in English, but I just don’t know how to do it. I guess I need more motivation!”
- “Yesterday I didn’t practice my English vocabulary list with 50 new words. I just wasn’t motivated enough.”
Most learners struggle with these types of problems.
You might think that you need more motivation to learn English. But you might be surprised to hear that motivation is not what you need to make progress.
Motivation Is a Myth: Why You Don’t Need More Motivation to Learn English
I have just finished reading the book “The Motivation Myth” for the second time in a row.
In the book, the author says that we don’t need more motivation to do what we want to do. He gives a lot of helpful and practical advice. I find the book brilliant (and surprisingly motivating), that’s why I read it twice in one month.
The book’s main message is this:
You don’t need motivation. You need a process that works for you.
It’s the same when you are learning English.
Motivation is vague. What does “being motivated” mean? How can you measure motivation?
To become a fluent and confident English speaker, you need to make progress regularly.
You don’t need more motivation to learn English. Instead, you need action.
Motivation can come and go. You cannot wait for it. Instead, you can use a process that you enjoy and that helps you take action.
For learners like you and me, a good process is more effective than having more motivation.
Today, I will show you how you can find a process to learn English. I believe this is the best approach if you want to learn English effectively.
The Language Learning Problem: Words Are Not Enough, Either
Have you ever been told you are not a good learner? Do you ever think you are not talented enough to speak English fluently at work?
The good news is that you can be a good learner. You are absolutely able to learn English. You don’t need any talent or more motivation to learn English successfully.
But here is the bad news: Using an app to learn 10 new English words per day is not enough. Speaking to native English speakers on vacation is not enough. Doing grammar exercises is not enough.
You Need a Process to Learn English Successfully
So, what kind of process do English learners need?
I believe that in today’s economy we need two main skills:
- Self-education. Even if you take a class or have a teacher to help you, you are the one who has to learn. You need to become an independent learner and know how to teach yourself any skill.
2. Focus. The modern world is full of distractions. As it gets more and more difficult to resist these distractions, focusing is becoming a useful skill. So, what we need to do now more than ever is to focus on what matters and take consistent action.
When it comes to language learning, these two skills are essential.
Learning Process vs. Motivation: Independent Learning
Being an independent learner means teaching yourself. It involves:
- trying different learning approaches
- knowing yourself and your preferences, and
- finding a learning process that works for you.
To become an effective learner, you can – and should – adapt the process to your own needs. You have to personalize your learning process to learn effectively.
Your personal process should become part of your routine.
Start asking yourself these questions:
- What do you enjoy?
- Why are you learning English for business?
- How much time do you have to study in your day?
- What business topics are you interested in?
- How much money can you spend on your learning process per month or year?
- What do you struggle with the most?
- Do you prefer to study with books, on your phone, or on the computer?
This is an example of a system that I use and recommend to learners who want to study new words successfully:
How to remember new words
You Need Focus & Consistency Instead of Motivation
Do these distractions sound familiar?
- Checking your phone
- Chatting with your friends
- Reading the news
- Spending time on social media
Being able to focus is hard.
In modern life, this skill is difficult to learn. It takes time and practice.
But without focus, you cannot follow the process and take consistent action. If you cannot concentrate, you will not be able to learn English successfully.
Even if it is difficult, I believe we can get a little bit better each day. Organizing yourself and your time is a process, too.
Try these tips the next time you struggle to focus:
- Time your study session using the Pomodoro technique. Only 30 minutes can help a lot! I am using a timer app on my computer as I write this article. It has made my writing process much more effective.
- Keep a timesheet with the details of every study session: the date, start time, end time, what you learned, which resources you used, etc.
- Use a productivity tool such as Trello to track your learning progress. You can set deadlines, attach files, add to-do lists, and more to organize your learning activities.
Which Learning Tools Should You Use?
If you know me, you know that I am a fan of language learning tools. They can make your learning process so much easier and enjoyable.
We are lucky to live in a time with many options. However, choosing the right tools can be difficult.
Try different tools. Then, choose a few tools (no more than 5) carefully and use them in your learning process.
Here are my suggestions to get started:
Conclusion: You Don’t Need More Motivation, You Need A Process
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect to make progress. And you also don’t need more motivation to get better every day.
As busy professionals, we need to use our time wisely. We really need a good process.
Don’t wait for motivation. Do a little bit every day. Find a process and stick to it. Focus. Choose effective learning tools. Be consistent.
What Is Your Learning Process?
I would like to hear from you:
What is the hardest part of learning English for you? What do you struggle with the most?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!