Learning a new language is challenging, but it’s not rocket science either. It does not only require memory and other cognitive skills; it also involves the right amount of emotions (which are innate to humans!) to stay motivated and get the most out of your holistic learning journey.
Discover a wide range of human emotions and how they can positively influence your language learning:
1. Trust: Start With Yourself
The reason why learning a language can sometimes be tough is largely because of how you perceive the process itself. If you start off believing it is not doable, it’s like putting a spanner in the works, making it harder to learn, retain and apply your skills. First step to success: trust yourself.
Believing that you can do it when learning a new skill sets your brain to be more creative and attentive. The can-do attitude will have you spelling and recalling new words the way you learned your first language. If it’s been done countless times before, then why should your experience be any different?
2. Relaxed: Keep Calm and Learn
The human brain works just like any machine; it is most efficient when it is well maintained. And how do we keep our brains in ‘good condition’? By relaxing.
According to scientists from the California Institute of Technology, relaxing activities open up the neural pathways between various memory centers of the brain. In a picture recollection activity, it was found that the relaxed group could easily pick out pictures they had already seen before. They were more confident in their selections and had a higher success rate, unlike the other group who were in agitated induced state.
Also, it has been shown to keep cortisol levels in check. Cortisol is the stress hormone that tends to constrict neural pathways making it harder to recall new words or pronunciations. Therefore, getting your daily dose of relaxation helps you learn faster. Ensuring you’re always relaxed is as simple as getting the minimum recommended 8 hours of sleep per night.
3. Yearning: Curiosity Doesn’t Kill the Cat
Yearn to learn. If you harness the power of curiosity to the fullest, learning a new language will not only be memorable but also exciting. Learn to be inquisitive. It is easier to recall new phrases and pronunciations if you’re the one dishing out the questions or initiating the process.
Curiosity keeps the mind active and receptive to learning new things. It will also help you become more observant in your everyday activities.
4. Joy: Integrate Fun into the Equation
It’s basic human nature to love the things that seem appealingly fun and effortless to us. That’s why it’s easier to go swimming or hiking than writing an essay or a work report. But if you can learn to put working on your new language skills in this category, then the hours will seem like minutes. It is also bound to be more fruitful.
Incorporate games into the routine like adding puzzles, picture, word games or milestone rewards into the mix. Get your classmates or language buddies involved by setting a competition on pronunciation and usage of language phrases.
The human ability to memorize is enhanced when the task at hand is viewed as a leisure activity rather than a formal academic task. You’ll find it easier to recall new words once you link the experience with entertainment.
5. Fear: Worrying Helps Too!
Believe it or not, it does. Fear is a basic human emotion deeply imbued into the human psychology and it is what makes us responsible. Worrying about the consequences of not doing something can actually be motivating.
Let’s say that you get a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Paris, however, knowing French is a requirement for the trip. Wouldn’t you be afraid to miss out on the trip only because you did not consider learning the language? Fear is a strong drive to get things started and be motivated more than ever.
Learning a new language takes practice and effort. You won’t probably nail it at the first attempt; however, with commitment and the right amount of emotions, your learning journey will surely be easier than expected.
About the Author: Joseph C. is an avid reader and an enthusiastic traveler. He’s passionate about learning new languages and sharing his culture with others. Next to his list: Learning French. Oui!