Learning a foreign language requires consistency and Chinese is no exception. If you can’t manage to keep your motivation up, you will risk forgetting your original objectives and returning to the same old routine.
But what is the best way to maintain motivation over time? For some “paying for it” is more than enough: you enroll in a Chinese course and, since you’ve invested a certain amount of money, you feel obligated to attend the course and study regularly. Often however it isn’t enough.
Therefore, besides getting engaged to a Chinese person that doesn’t speak any other language, the best strategy is to turn your study of the language into a daily habit.
How long does it take to form a new habit?
Different scientific studies seem to demonstrate that forming a new habit requires 21 days. Contrary to what is often said, three weeks isn’t always enough.
Here are suggestions for successfully transforming your study of Chinese into a habit:
Commit yourself publicly
Despite, as was already said, the fact that it may take more than just three weeks to form a new habit, the first period is often the hardest. If you don’t have strong motivation, you have to create one.
The best way to go about this is to set a medium-term goal and then announce it to the world.
Tell it to your partner and to your friends, post it on Twitter or your personal blog. In short, make it so your life will be difficult if you fail to reach your objective. The fact of being publicly compromised will help you to study every day and maintain motivation.
Take advantage of dead time
Are you stuck spending 45 boring minutes every day on a bus just to get to work? Take advantage of that time to study!
A podcast is the best solution even for those who travel by car. Studying Chinese while on your way to work has another advantage: when you repeat the same action at the same time and in the same place it is in fact easier to develop and maintain a habit.
Start! It's as simple as that!
Have you ever gone out to run and then stopped after two minutes? Once you start, running is a pleasure. The problem, usually, is convincing yourself to begin.
One way to do so is to set daily micro-goals, such as “to listen to a Chinese podcast for at least three minutes”. Once you overcome the initial inertia, you’ll hardly turn off your mp3 before the podcast finishes.
Prepare a detailed plan
Studying without having a specific plan of what you want to do or what goal you seek to reach doesn’t make much sense.
1. Select a clear objective that is simple
2. Decide on a timeframe in which you expect to reach it
3. Evaluate how much time you can dedicate each day to language studies
4. Give yourself a realistic goal
Evaluate the results
Choose one day a month to evaluate your progress. Are you studying enough? If you’re not, what’s the reason? Does it seem as if you need to change something? Initial plans are never perfect and you’ll probably need to make some adjustments.
What’s your plan for learning Chinese? Just Start!