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Why do we give up on learning a language?

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

My Italian colleague once told me, when I started learning Italian:

The best way to learn a foreign language – is to fall in love with a native speaker.

Well, I didn’t manage to use his advice practising Italian, but I certainly did (and still doing it), improving my English.

So, why is it and what is a linguistic power of love? And what to do, if falling in love is not in your plans, but you want to learn a language?

The answer is very simple – it is all about the motivation. They say there are not lazy people, they are people whose motivation is not strong enough.

Unfortunately, lack of motivation – is the main reason why it is hard to persevere with language learning, especially Russian, on the 1-5 scale of difficulty being the 4th (And I will come back to it another time).

So, how to motivate yourself to learn Russian?

1. To know why you are doing this.

Whether it is reading a book in original, speaking to your significant other or bilingual child, work or travel – you need to have a concrete reason.

The huge or abstract goal alone though might not bring the success; try to set many “down-to-earth” goals, like making a joke in Russian; speak to a passport officer/order food/buy a ticket; texting in Russian; read a short novel/ watch an episode of Friends etc. Some of these goals might become old, irrelevant or you will add more on your way. The reasons why you’re learning Russian might change, but try not to run out of them.

Advise: there are 2 types of motivations, intrinsic (inner reasons) and extrinsic (external reasons, such as someone’s praise or approval).

All successful people have one thing in common – they draw motivation from inside, to be driven by the desire to develop, the joy of speaking Russian, the love of Russian language etc., but not for the praise or reaction from other people – otherwise you are at the whim of others.

2. Try to be consistent.

Language is like sport, you might easily get out of shape and will have to spend time returning it; that would be quite demotivating. Try to schedule the time you are devoting to Russian. Even if you are a super busy person, find 5 minutes (at breakfast, warming up your car, during the lunch break). We always can find time for anything if we want it.

I started both Spanish and Italian by listening to CDs while driving my car; when I was improving my French, I learnt 100 French songs, I read the lyrics during the breaks at work and practised singing in my car.

3. Have fun. Don’t bury yourself under boring workbooks, especially in low motivation periods. Nowadays there are many apps, web sites, media files which you could watch or play with instead of checking your Facebook feed (although Facebook also has groups, devoted to learning Russian).

Remember: when you are low on motivation, which happens to anyone – come back to the point 1. Remind yourself, why you are doing this. Don’t be afraid to restart the 10th time, if you had given up 9.

If you are interested to learn Russian with a native speaker,

Feel free to contact me.


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