Kickstarting Your Motivation to Learn Another Language

Taking the first step to start your foreign language learning may just require being a little curious. Maybe just by watching a video, listening to some music, traveling, or meeting a native speaker. Then, you'll find out if it was just a sparkle for curiosity or your motivation is boosted by willing to learn more.

We human beings tend to be emotional creatures. Our sensory adaptors are triggered by a lot of factors, among which, the environment. The stimulus that comes from what we see, hear, taste, touch, or smell is constantly present in our life.

Learning another language may be boosted or decreased by the sensory stimulus and a lot of other factors. Additionally, when we are exposed to something we like, the natural response is to like, to keep it, or incorporate it in our lives if possible. One good example associated with language acquisition is being able to reproduce sounds that are meaningful to you and others that create a connection within your senses.

Your sensory language plays a really important role in terms of language learning. The more you are exposed to sounds, visual and aural experiences, the more comfortable you become in the environment around you. When this happens, your emotional filtering tends to shift, you become more mindful about what’s happening around and you can make more relaxed connections with the world out there. Can you imagine having a conversation with somebody else in the language you are learning and your mental filtering is not actively interfering? This usually occurs when you are not afraid of making mistakes and you are really intrigued by learning about that person’s interests, culture, and life.

Indeed, our senses play a significant role in how we perceive and interact with the world, including when we’re learning a new language. The following are some insights provided by different sources, not mine, but they align with anybody’s language learning experience:

  1. “Sensory Adaptation: Our sensory organs are constantly exposed to various stimuli from our environment. When learning a new language, these sensory experiences can be both a boon and a challenge. Exposure to the language’s sounds, visuals, and cultural context can help train your brain to become more attuned to it.”
  2. “Emotional Connections: Emotional connections are a powerful driver in language learning. When you have a personal interest or attachment to a language, perhaps due to a fondness for its culture or a desire to connect with specific people, your motivation and willingness to learn tend to increase. Emotions can also make learning more memorable, as strong emotional experiences are often retained better in memory.”
  3. “Reproducing Meaningful Sounds: Reproducing meaningful sounds is crucial for effective language learning. This is why it’s often recommended to immerse yourself in the language by listening to native speakers or engaging in conversations. Hearing and mimicking sounds that hold personal significance can be a highly effective way to develop pronunciation and fluency.”
  4. “Comfort in the Environment: As you become more comfortable in the linguistic environment, your ability to absorb the language naturally improves. This is similar to how a child learns their first language by being constantly exposed to it in their surroundings. Creating an immersive environment for language learning can help you adapt more quickly.”
  5. “Emotional Filtering and Mindfulness: Language learning can also foster mindfulness. When you’re genuinely interested in the language and culture, you become more aware of the nuances and details of your interactions. This heightened awareness can lead to a more relaxed approach to making connections and conversing in the language. It reduces the fear of making mistakes and allows you to focus on the richness of the interaction.”
  6. “Cultural Understanding: Learning a new language often comes hand in hand with gaining a deeper understanding of the culture associated with that language. This cultural insight can further enhance your emotional connection to the language and the people who speak it.”
  7. “Fear of Making Mistakes: Overcoming the fear of making mistakes is a critical aspect of language learning. When you’re genuinely intrigued by learning about someone else’s interests, culture, and life, you’re more likely to embrace the learning process with a growth mindset. You recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of the journey.”

Summing up, the exposure to sensory experiences and being immersed in the culture whose language you are attempting to learn, recreates your emotional connection and willingness to learn. Your curiosity, your readiness to accept other’s cultural values, and embracing the difference can bring magical learning experiences that you will never regret.

Nury Lara-Niebles

Nury Lara

30+ years’ experience in general facilitation, global onboarding, leadership development, talent management and retention. Broad experience in English & Spanish language instruction, translation and interpretation, academic advising, organizational skills, and learning resources. Passionate about DEI programing & driving initiatives to build an inclusive workplace. Infectious enthusiasm & passion for helping people build their confidence, enhance their self-esteem to bring their authentic self to work.

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