5 Tips for Staying Motivated While Learning French

5 Tips for Staying Motivated While Learning French

So, the New Year has officially begun and, like many avid language learners, you've challenged yourself to learn a new language. Hurray! Whether you're a first time language learner or you've picked up several different languages over the years, welcome to the community.

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, learning a language is one that's fairly common. It's also one that, like many other common resolutions, gets dropped pretty early on. It can be hard to learn a new language no matter how fascinated you are with it, and one of the leading reasons people give up is because many fail to stay motivated.

Letter board that says 'You got this'.

Why It's Important to Stay Motivated

Self-motivation is vital for any New Year's resolution, but it's especially important when learning a new language such as French. French can be challenging, even if you speak another romance language, and staying motivated is essential to sticking with your New Year's resolution.

Some people may not realize how important it is to stay motivated when working toward a goal. Whether this goal is remembering to make lunch at home instead of eating out or learning a whole new language, it's important to stay motivated.

When you're motivated, you're more willing to conquer challenges and continue forward even when faced with setbacks. Motivation can help you overcome fears, such as speaking French with native speakers.

If you do lose motivation, don't despair! You're not alone and you're certainly not the first French learner to want to give up. Before you quit, though, try to re-motivate yourself using the tips below.

Person writing in a notebook.

5 Tips for Staying Motivated When Learning French

Every language learner is different, so you may need to experiment a bit to find out which methods work best at keeping you motivated.

That said, you may find that a combination of methods work or you may put your own spin on them. That's all perfectly fine! These tips are just here to give you a starting point and as you continue learning French, you'll find that your motivation will change as well.

#1. Study What You're Interested In

When you start to lose motivation, it could very likely be because you aren't working on topics that interest you. Unfortunately, this will be unavoidable when learning a language, but it doesn't have to mean this is the end of your French learning journey.

If you start to lose interest in what you're studying, try refocusing. If you're working on French verb tenses but find yourself unable to remember anything, try changing it up and studying pronouns instead. If you're studying kitchen vocab and can't stop yawning, try studying verlan (that's French slang) instead.

Of course, you'll need to go back to the boring stuff eventually, but studying the things that you're interested in will help you stay motivated.

#2. Remind Yourself Why You Chose French

Sometimes we get so lost in the process of how to learn a language that we forget why we're learning a language.

Every now and then, remind yourself why you chose French. Maybe you have family that is French. Maybe you want to visit one of the different French-speaking regions.

Whatever the reason, take some time to remind yourself why you chose French if you start to lose motivation. Make a vision board. Plan a trip. It doesn't matter! If you're lacking motivation, take some time to remember why you were interested in French in the first place and don't be upset if that reason changes.

#3. Make SMART Goals

A lot of people have heard of SMART goals within the context of work, but SMART goals also work for language learning.

When you make your New Year's resolution or decide to start learning French, make sure that whatever goals you set are SMART. If they aren't, take the time now to rework them so that they are. This will help set you up for success and can help you stay motivated.

If you haven't heard of SMART goals, you may be wondering what they are. Luckily, they aren't complicated. They're simply goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. A SMART goal for learning French might look like this:

  • Speak French at a B1 level by next January

It's SMART because you know exactly what the end goal is, it can be measured by taking a test, it's achievable if you work at it continually, it's realistic depending on your commitment level, and you have a time limit.

Once you have your SMART goal set, create several little steps that you'll meet over the course of the year. This will help you feel like you're on track and making good progress as you have many little achievements to brag about. Here is an example of how the above SMART goal would be divided:

  • Pass an A1 French test in April
  • Pass an A2 French test in August
  • Pass a B1 French test in December

#4. Let Yourself Take Breaks

Many language learners think they need to push through until they're fluent, but this isn't always a good idea. Sometimes, it's best to take a step back and give yourself a break. If you force yourself to keep learning, you'll wear yourself out and may even start to hate the language.

When it comes to learning French, there's no single method. I learned French through an intensive 9-month program where all I did was study French. After, I took a 3-month break before returning to the language. This was good because it helped me achieve a high level of French fluency in a short amount of time, but instead of forcing myself to continue until I was fluent, I took some time off to do other things. If I hadn't done this, I probably would have grown tired of the language and started to hate it.

Sometimes the best thing in learning a language is to stop. Not forever, but temporarily. This will help you reorganize your priorities and prevent burn-out.

#5. Switch Up Your Study Schedule

Some language learners like to have a strict study schedule and some language learners do not. Whatever method you prefer, don't be afraid to switch things up if you start to lose your motivation.

If you typically listen to music in French, maybe try listening to a French audiobook. This will allow you to practice a different form of listening comprehension and give you new content.

If you like watching the news in French, maybe try watching a movie. Not only will this give you a new way to learn vocabulary, but it will also introduce you to French cinema.

Letters spelling out 'Focus on your goals'.

Meeting your Language Goals

French is a fascinating language and certainly one that can be fun to learn. It's no wonder that so many people make it their New Year's resolution or life goal. However, if you don't know how to stay motivated, it can seem impossible after a while.

No matter what your language goals are, don't give up! Whether you want to become fluent in French or you just want to understand casual French, setting SMART goals and staying motivated will help you achieve them. That being said, don't be too hard on yourself if it takes you longer than you initially thought.

You aren't alone in your language learning journey. Take advantage of the numerous forums and online communities for help with overcoming language challenges, reigniting your motivation, and finding new friends. Good luck!