Ana Martín of Lingo Press Books says that if you want to learn a language you have to build manageable learning habits, have realistic goals and enjoy the language you’re learning.

Let’s have a look at how we can use these ideas to build enough discipline to learn a second language.

Build manageable habits

When people first start learning a language, they normally have lots of motivation, they want to learn all day every day and they put everything into it. Then as learning a language becomes less exciting they burn out and stop. Sounds familiar? That’s because we do this with all kinds of things, not just languages.

If we want to start doing something, be it a diet, exercising or learning a language, it’s better to build habits into your daily life. That is, to choose things that you know you can maintain and to try and do them every day than to just have one day a week where you do a lot.

If you work full time you may want to consider just committing to an hour a day. Yes, that is going to take a much longer time to learn, but you’re more likely to stick to it than if you do five hours the first day then lost interest.

Here are some small habits you might be able to stick to:

• Read one news article a day
• Do five exercises on Duolingo a day
• Listen to ten minutes of audio a day
• Watch half an hour TV in a different language a day
• Do thirty minutes of grammar work a day
• Have a skype session with someone once a week

Obviously, you can change the methods to fit your personality, but as you can see, all of these tasks are manageable. If you commit to them, you're more likely to succeed and continue. Then if you find these are easy and achievable, build more into your schedule. But if you find the list is too much and you don’t do anything, cut it down and start small.

The important thing here is to be doing something every day no matter how small, rather than doing one thing each week or less.

Pick a language you’re actually interested in

It will really help you stay motivated if you choose a language that you’re actually interested in. If you pick Chinese Mandarin because you think it sounds cool and people would be impressed if you could speak it, but you have no interest in the country, the culture, you don’t want to move or work there and you have no Chinese friends, then I think you’ll be a lot more likely to fail.

If instead, you think I really like France, I go there every year on holiday with my family. Out of foreign films, French ones are always my favorite and I’ve heard it’s more manageable for an English speaker, then you’re going to have more luck with the language.

If you enjoy the music or movies of a country, you’re setting yourself up for an easier time because there are will be thousands of resources available to you. Or if you have a concrete reason you want to learn the language, that will help you as well. Say you’re moving to Russia in a year and you want to be conversational before you go, or you want to study Arabic at University and you don’t want to start your first day with no knowledge. These are all great motivators to continue learning.

Set yourself realistic, measurable and attainable goals

Setting yourself goals to work towards can be a great way to keep motivated because you know constantly why you’re doing something and where you need to get to. If you keep it vague and say my goal is to learn Spanish, then how do you know you’ve achieved that? What is ‘to have learned Spanish?’ How long does it take? How can it be measured? As you can see this isn’t a measurable goal.

Think smaller. Let’s look at an example together:

Your vague immeasurable goal may be “I want to learn Spanish.”

How can we turn this into a measurable goal? Well using the CEFR language framework, we can see that a B2 speaker would have a good command of the Spanish language. So we change this goal to “I want to pass the B2 Spanish exam.”

Now this goal is too big on its own so we break it down into sub-goals. To get to B2 we need to have studied A1, A2, B1, and B2. You can work out how much time you would need on each section depending on how busy your life is. For example, you could say you’re going to study each block in three months. Now you have a three-month goal to start you off. You’re going to study all of A1 Spanish within three months.

Again this is pretty big. It’s good to have these larger objectives but it’s also useful to know what you’re going to do on a week by week basis or even a day to day basis. Take a look at what is in A1 and what you need to study, then set yourself weekly goals.

This way you’re much more likely to achieve your objectives and move onto the next one than if your goal was simply ‘to learn Spanish’ without any elaboration.

Author's Bio: 

I am a professional writer and loves to write on different topics like SEO, Health, Money Making, Fashion, etc. It is my Hobby and passion.