An article recently stated that the most popular excuse people have for not learning a language is ‘not having enough time’. This came at the top of the 8 most common excuses with 24% and was followed by ‘a lack of motivation’ with 16%. The study was conducted by a Swiss translation agency but the figures of participants are unknown so the scale of the full study is unclear. However, 24% is still a shockingly high percentage and ‘not having enough time’ is probably one of the worst excuses for not doing something… ever. Besides, it’s almost completely transparent and just leads to the next most popular excuse, ‘a lack of motivation’, which is probably closer to the truth than the previous one.
We are increasingly busier nowadays with work pulling us one way and family/friends the other; sometimes it’s difficult to strike a balance. Nevertheless, ideally we should all strive for a balance so we have some time to do what we want, whether it be going to the gym or learning a new language.
As language learners we all lose our motivation at some point, either because we can’t figure out a grammatical structure or because our progress isn’t as fast as our peers but we just can’t let these little things get us down. Life is full of obstacles but does that mean that we should give up on that? NO. So when you feel unmotivated and defeated, take a rest and start again. After all this is part of the learning experience!
From personal experience, I remember finding it difficult to not mixing up two similar languages. One of them was one that I had grown up with at home and the other one was one that I was studying at University. I didn’t understand how the similarities between these languages began to my progress down rather than propel me towards fluency. I was bewildered until I was told that when you deal with a language at an advanced level the worst thing you can do is look at another language for help. I was informed that if I really wanted to achieve those top results then I would have to forget the ‘other’ language until I had reached the level that I wanted to reach. I knew it would be hard work because I use the ‘other’ language on a daily basis along with English. But I definitely didn’t compare those two languages again as it doesn’t always help.
The truth of it is, learning a language is like a relationship – you have to commit, love it and make some effort even when the going gets tough. I was worried that fitting 4 languages into my day would be impossible at first. Obviously my weakest languages needed more of my attention and I made sure that I had the time to do that. It was all about time management and making the most of every spare moment you had during the day. I decided to dedicate a few hours at night to news reading, film watching and vocabulary learning. However, I have friends who even made most of their time on buses/tubes to learn vocabulary so not having enough time is just a silly excuse. Everyone has the time but you just need to manage it better and never give up!