Learning Spanish - Motivation In Language Learning

Internal or external motivation

One key to satisfying and successful learning a foreign language is the personal motivation. What keeps you motivated, certainly depends on the reason why you are dealing with a new language.

First of all, there are different types of motivation. If you are externally motivated- your boss is forcing you to learn, you have to do it because it’s a requirement to graduate- that is what we call external or imposed motivation. The other type of motivation is internal or inner motivation. This is the case where you simply have a desire to learn the language. You like the culture of a Spanish-speaking country, you like language/languages in general, and so on.
Internal motivation is much more useful in terms of moving you toward fluency in your target language.

Be honest with your motivation

I have talked to many Spanish students who proclaimed they are very motivated to learn Spanish. We spoke about internal and external motivation, and they pointed to internal motivating factors as being their primary reason to learn Spanish. After some more extensive conversation with them, it turned out that they were highly motivated to know Spanish - they really, really wanted to speak Spanish, but they weren’t really interested in learning Spanish. What is the difference between wanting to know Spanish and wanting to learn Spanish?

Wanting to know Spanish excludes all the hard work that is required to meet that goal- learning Spanish implies a learning process that will be work.

When evaluating your motivation, you need to be honest with yourself. Examine what you really want. Do you want to be able to speak Spanish or do you want to go through the Spanish learning process. These are two very different concepts.

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