“Everything is so hard! I just wanted to be an astronaut!” – A wise man (probably)
Learning a language isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s a living and breathing method of communication that isn’t always perfectly logical. In other words, it’s a HOT MESS and you’re going to have to learn your way through the dense and confusing jungles of someone else’s language. So naturally, you will reach roadblocks and will deal with things that will make you want to quit life and go back to bed. It’s natural! It’s life!
If you are a huge bump in your language learning journey, don’t panic. Don’t panic!! You being stuck is not a reflection upon you or your capabilities. Let me say that again. YOU BEING STUCK IS NOT A REFLECTION UPON YOU OR YOUR CAPABILITIES. It is a reflection of how the world works and how sucky it is to learn languages.
While learning Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, I faced so many bumps in the road. So many. So many…. *clinches fist and closes eyes dramatically*. But I got through and so can you. In the steps I outline what you can do if you’re feeling stuck in your language learning or if you’ve reached a language learning plateau how to move forward. (So chill out on the “feeling in a rut” quotes from Pinterest cause they won’t help).
Remember Why You Started
This is super basic and you’ve probably heard it a million times, so I won’t linger on this tip. If you feel like giving up, just make a list of all the reasons you started learning this language in the first place. If you have no specific reasons, make some right now. Do some research and see what benefits your language(s) grant you! This will kick your butt into gear again, because now you remember the goal you’re chasing after and you’ll wanna reach it. Cause who doesn’t love reaching goals!?
Don’t Rely On Motivation
Motivation is so great for getting started on something, but once you’ve actually started to do something, you will find that your motivation often wains and all you’re left with is procrastination and guilt. You can’t rely on being motivated to do things everyday. You can try to motivate yourself each and everyday, but that is ineffecient because it takes up precious time and energy. Instead, build up your discipline or your ability to do things even if you don’t want to. Wouldn’t that be sick wicked awesome if you could consistently get things done even if you don’t want to!? That’s what discipline can do for you! The only way to grow it, is to practice doing it over and over till you build the muscle. Beautiful things take time and when you give it that time, you will see amazing results.
Pinpoint EXACTLY What the Problem Is
If you are feeling stuck, you need to try to pinpoint EXACTLY what the problem is. Are you having trouble reading, writing, formulating sentences, listening to natural speed? Pinpoint EXACTLY where the problem lies and then go deeper than THAT to see what is causing the problem. It is important to know exactly what is causing the problems in your studies, writing them down and then brainstorming the best way FOR YOU to address those problem areas. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS.
For example, in my Korean studies I faced a HUGE issue. I could NOT formulate sentences to save my life or even my dog’s life! I could perfectly understand sentences, but I couldn’t make a single one. So I identified that I had trouble speaking. Then I identified that it was sentence formation. Then I needed to figure out why. So I threw myself into an immersive environment and realized it was because I was feeling overwhelmed by the grammar and was learning the material the wrong way.
Change Your Approach
Once you have identified the problem, you can begin brainstorming creative ways to deal with each and every problem
For example, in my Korean studies I could NOT formulate sentences! So I reviewed making basic sentences then adding complicated parts to them. I studied that grammar inside and out so that I knew EXACTLY what each word meant and how it contributed to the sentence to create it’s meaning.
I also realized that Koreans formulate sentences so bizarrely different from English so I needed to learn DIRECTLY from native speakers more often. In other words, I needed to shadow them. Then I was able to take sentences I learned to use them and modify them with my deep knowledge of the grammar.
Ask Someone For Help
Last but certainly not least, ask someone for help. It could be a teacher, a coach, another language learner (like myself) or a native speaker. Ask them to assess your abilities and help you determine what’s going wrong in your language studies. There is no book, blog or video that can supplement a human person’s personal interaction so look to others to help you where you are stuck and you will never be disappointed!
You can join language communities in:
Tumblr (you can ask me questions directly on my Tumblr page)
Instagram (Every week I hold a Q&A in Instagram Live)
While you’re here, check out these other stupendous posts!: