This weekend I listened to the audiobook of Seth Godin's "The Dip", a book about quitting. Without taking too much away from this book, Godin basically divides situations into Dips, Dead Ends and Cliffs. The Dips are worth pursuing because it will go up again at the end. The Dead Ends aren't.
The secret to sailing through every dip is perseverance. If you master this skill, you can keep yourself working hard even when times aren't so fun. To translate this into the language learning world, you have to keep going even when the novelty and fun is starting to fade a little. And why is that? It's simple. You will get through the dip, lots of others won't, and that's how you will achieve your goal: to possess a rare and special skill that you can be proud of.
Before you get stuck, prepare yourself! The dips are inevitable, but here are some dip-defying techniques to keep you going through those lows:
Write Down Why You're Doing This
You must do this before you even get started. If you got recently started and you're loving your new knowledge, sit down and do this now. Write down your long-term vision, your image of impressing at that job interview in Germany or chatting to the French personal shopper. Then write down your first small goal. Start this with the words "I will be impressed with my progress when..."
Whatever it may be that got you to this point, make sure it doesn't fade. When you're a few months down the line and still struggling to pronounce those funny words, this note is your secret weapon to bring back your long-term vision and defeat the short-term pain.
If you are considering taking up a new language or investing time and money into reviving old language knowledge, this is one of the most important steps you can take to make sure you are successful. You're not going to be alone in facing the dips - it's completely normal and everybody goes through this one time or another. This is exactly why I believe in the power of getting a language tutor: You'll be recruiting someone for support who's already got the dip behind them, so they can lend you a hand when you're crossing that low. Lots of tutors will offer you at least a free chat to get to know them, so you also have the pick of the bunch to make sure they'll work to get the best out of you.
Should you be too shy or dead set on learning for free, I'd still recommend that you enlist a friend to take the language adventure with you. We know how exercising or taking classes with a buddy keeps you going, and this applies to language too.
Keep It Interesting
When the foreign language you're learning feels boring and old, it's up to you to make it interesting. There are a million ways of picking yourself up, and once you take responsibility for your own learning progress it will get so much easier! Keep things fresh by trying out a couple (not 100) different sources and approaches, google whatever topic you're studying this week, make yourself a study plan with realistic goals that you can hit in two weeks. There is lots out there to keep you going and thousands of native speakers who will be proud to point you towards some great materials in their own language.
The Dip is universal, but those that beat it are the true experts. Good luck getting to the other side!