Learning a new language is an exciting prospect. For some, it can prompt them to begin their language learning at a million miles an hour --- studying for several hours a day, attending online classes with native speakers, memorizing hundreds of vocabulary words and more --- and that sounds good at first, but there’s a serious risk lurking behind it!
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Language learning burnout is a real problem among learners, who kickstart their language education with a flurry of activity, but start to burn out as they reach the inevitable slow-down period or linguistic “wall” that emerges in the intermediate stages.
🏇 The beginning is always encouraging
The start of your language learning adventure is always inspiring. You learn handfuls of words, complete exercises, start to build sentences and can easily succeed in nearly every activity you try. Most people will sail through the beginner stages of a language, and then be encouraged to go on, thinking it will be much the same as they progress to the intermediate and advanced stages.
This is where burnout is common. As progress starts to slow down, and content becomes increasingly challenging, you can run into the so-called “wall.” This will give you a sensation that you are working increasingly hard for fewer and fewer returns. Some will allow this burnout to stop themselves studying, thinking they have reached their limit.
🔥 How to avoid and/or overcome the burnout
There are several things you can do to either avoid this feeling altogether, or at least mitigate its worst effects and keep on going.
Be aware of differences
You should be aware of the difference between each level of language learning. The jump from beginner to intermediate, and intermediate to advanced is a lot bigger than you imagine, and you have to lower your expectations on the speed of your advancement as you reach harder material.
Next, you should create realistic language goals that are compatible with your new-found understanding of the higher learning levels. For example, if you were learning 50 new words a day in the beginning, consider cutting it in half for intermediate, and then again when you get to more advanced words. It isn’t a downgrade, because you are dealing with more advanced material.
Take review breaks
Third, take breaks from learning new material in which you review old material, and, even better, spend time practicing what you’ve learned on native speakers. Putting language and ideas that you’ve picked up in your studies to use with a native speaker will help reinforce the knowledge in your mind, and even tune it up to be more in line with natural or current expression. Native speaker teachers can also help you tweak your pronunciation, as well as give you new ways to use words that you’ve learned elsewhere.
Finally, try to make language learning at higher levels more enjoyable by incorporating music and video media. One of the greatest feelings after spending time learning a new language is being able to watch a movie or TV show in the language you have started to master. You might not catch everything, but being able to follow that movie in an entirely different language is a huge boost to confidence, and encourages you to go on.
💨 Change your “burnout” into a “second wind”
Ultimately, many people burn out in their language learning journey because they think they are failing. As progress slows, and the speed with which they grasp and master new concepts also slows, it’s easy for them to come to the conclusion that they are doing something wrong.
The reality is quite different. By maintaining a positive attitude, making changes to the way you learn, practicing with native speakers and by keeping a realistic plan at the heart of your studies, you can turn your burnout into a second wind that carries you all the way up to the high echelons of advanced learning and even fluency. Whether or not you burnout is what separates a truly successful language learner from a would-be language learner. Don’t ever be the latter!
🎉 Get started!
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