Why Are You Learning English?
Are you learning for your job, or maybe in order to get a better job? Is it just to travel? Is it because someone is obligating you (your school, parents, boss, etc.)?
Or do you just have a general feeling that you have to learn English in order to be successful?
Although these are common and often good reasons to learn English (or another language), they are perhaps not the best motivations. There are much BIGGER and more compelling reasons to learn a language.
So, today I want to discuss with you some other reasons to consider learning a language that I hope will serve to strengthen your motivation on your journey to fluency AND challenge your view of what language is.
If you’re ready to STOP studying a language, and START living it then let’s push the limits and challenge your ideas about language learning.
Learn about a Culture
And yet… this is how we’re taught in school.
The traditional school approach to teaching places high importance on learning the rules and memorizing words, which makes us develop a bizarre view of languages–one that could be compared to how we see other school subjects, like math and science.
It goes something like this:
MEMORIZE the rules, DO the repetitive exercises, and PASS the tests
Unfortunately, when we learn like this it’s difficult to remember anything long-term. It’s also near impossible to stay inspired to keep learning. This is why after we finish school, many of us don’t prioritize learning a foreign language.
So, how do we learn better? How do we get excited and motivated by the language? How do we start looking forward to learning instead of dreading it?
It’s simple: Get inspired by the culture!
From my experience learning various languages, I would argue that language IS culture. It’s not just how people communicate. It’s the verbal representation of a place’s culture.
A language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It’s a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities. –Wade Davis
Learning ANY language becomes much easier and more motivating when you love the culture.
1. Find a way to connect with and get inspired by the culture: watch movies or TV shows, cook typical foods, learn about traditional dances, speak to natives of the country, etc. Use the language as a doorway to connect with the people and culture that speak it!
2. STOP learning the language and choose one from a culture you love!
If, for example, you’re learning English because you feel like you need to, but you don’t enjoy it and you aren’t particularly interested by American, British, or Australian culture, then it’s not for you. That’s ok; it doesn’t have to be.
Maybe there is a culture you have always been fascinated by–learn THAT language! The international importance of a language will NEVER be a good enough motivation to learn it, so learn whatever language you feel inspired by (and I understand if one is not enough)!
If you love a culture and its language, your learning is going to gain a lot of momentum, and you’re sure to find success through it–even if it’s not one of the most important languages in the world. Plus, learning a language you love will only motivate you to learn more languages later!
Call to Action: Get Inspired!
I hope that this article has changed some of your ideas about learning languages, and has perhaps even inspired you to take up learning a new one!
I want to share with you a TedTalk from Tim Doner, a young polyglot (he speaks 20+ languages!) who learns the languages that inspire him. His advice describes exactly why it’s crucial to first get inspired by the culture:
If you enjoyed this, please remember to SHARE it, and COMMENT below! Why are you learning English (or another language)? How do you stay motivated to keep learning?
I would LOVE to hear your answer!
Enjoy this? You might also enjoy…
- Life Changing Reasons to Learn Another Language
- Communication: The Most Important Part of Language Learning
- How to Get Fluent in 3 Months
- You Aren’t Fluent Until You Understand the Culture