Some of our students ask: “What’s wrong with changing languages?”
If you are in the wrong language or don’t aspire to fluency, nothing is wrong. However, excessive dabbling (jumping from one language to another) is a bad habit for those that aspire to fluency. That is common in the language learning community, and results in a lot of wasted time gaining knowledge that may be gradually forgotten. This is not to say dabbling is bad, only that you should only do so deliberately. Dabbling is suitable for people who don’t aspire to fluency, but instead learn with the goal of a achieving a low level in a high number of languages.
If you are aiming for a high level and switch languages, beware that a pattern doesn’t start to emerge. If you find the same thing happening with your next language, you could end up flitting from language to language without ever fulfilling your goals. If your goal is to speak your language at a reasonable level or for a specific purpose that requires a lot of skill, you are better off avoiding switching if at all possible.
Make sure you have a long-term goal or a set of goals
Having a goal is essential. The language you choose for yourself needs to be based on a set of goals that can sustain you over the long term. If it is not, your path will be more difficult. What works is whatever interests you and makes you want to reach a higher level. The most common way learners get motivation is by recording specific and attainable goals and then recording their progress if they feel it’s necessary. Make sure you have your own goals set out.
If you’re struggling to find a goal, think about the times you feel most motivated to study. These are the reasons that motivate you most. Write them all down.
Work towards your goal
The next thing is to choose activities in accordance with your goals. As much as possible, practice what it is your are learning the language for, even if you aren’t as good as you’d like to be.
Spend some time properly considering what motivates you. Is it the idea of conversing with real people? Is it reading some literature in its original language? Whatever it is, if you have it in mind, striving towards it, making progress, and successfully engaging with those parts of the language that motivate you will help you stay motivated, increase the time you can keep studying without getting bored or tired, and reduce the chances you will give up.
Be sure to keep those reasons around you. For example, if you are learning to communicate with certain people, try to be around those people more often.
Study in a way you enjoy
Choose a method that you enjoy and that helps you progress. Not everyone is the same – some methods people tout as effective might not work for you at all. There is nothing wrong with you, it’s just that there seems to be a lot of individual difference when it comes to learning method effectiveness, and the overwhelming factor seems to be the interest and enjoyment of the learner themselves. If you find the method you are using is too boring, change it up. There are lots of alternative ways to study.