Of course, that is true: motivation and having a goal for your language skills is very important for learning a foreign language.
However, there is another key element that teachers do not talk about so much; determination.
You must be determined to achieve your target in English. If not, motivation will not be enough.
What brings success?
Think about this quote from Will Smith (you can also see it in the picture) about why he is successful….
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things… you got it on me in nine out of ten categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right? You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want is strictly on being out-worked.“
Any student of a foreign language can learn so much from this. Will Smith puts all his success down to hard work.
But wait! Don’t be disappointed and think that language learning is only about work, work, work.
Fun = Success = Fun
Just think for a moment about when you have seen Will Smith being interviewed. He is always smiling and having fun, isn’t he?
And that’s the secret. While you are learning, you should also be having fun. This means that you are relaxed and that is super important for learning.
Think about how many times you have heard someone talk about “well, I had a few drinks and then I could speak English really well”.
Of course! Drinking some alcohol and being slightly more relaxed and having fun means that you are not worried about making mistakes, for example, and this means that your language brain can “flow” more easily.
Wise Work Only!
Working at English does not mean you have to do something boring. If you don’t like doing pages and pages of grammar questions because they are boring, then don’t do that. For me, ‘work’ means doing some English EVERY day. Even if you only do 5 or 10 minutes watching a Youtube video in English, that is still something.
However, even when you are doing some passive learning ‘work’ like watching a video, try to actively learn by writing down a phrase, a sentence or some vocabulary that you would like to use in the future.
If you don’t write it down (on your mobile phone, tablet or even an old-fashioned vocabulary notebook), you will forget it! Trust me.