5 Ways to Motivate Yourself When Chinese Gets Hard

by Logan Murphy

Here’s a list of five ways to motivate yourself to keep learning Chinese when the going gets tough!

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1. Find a Chinese girl/guy that you like
This worked like a charm for me, and I’m sure it will for you too! Nothing like a pretty smile to motivate you, I mean, how are you going to make it work with your new crush if you can’t speak their language? It would be very difficult to say the least! Luckily, in my case my wife spoke great English when I met her, which is good for me because my Chinese stunk! This might not be the case for you, but never fear! You can make it work, it’s just going to take a lot of hard work and effort!

It’s so easy to learn a language when you are constantly surrounded by it, and even if don’t have the chance to live in Taiwan like I did, getting close to the girl of your dreams and getting to know her family can provide you with the perfect chance to immerse yourself in the language! Even so, it never ceases to baffle me when I meet guys(in Taiwan, or America) that have been married for years, had kids even, and couldn’t speak a lick of Chinese! You may think I’m exaggerating, but I assure you that I’m not. I’ve even heard of people being unable to communicate with their own children! Don’t be that guy!
Honestly, your girlfriend/boyfriend may not turn out to be a natural born teacher, but they don’t have to be, really. A dictionary won’t teach you, but you can still learn from it. So go ahead and use that walking dictionary of yours, just make sure you treat them right!

2. Start a hobby that is linked to Chinese language in some way
For me, it was Taiji(also spelled Taichi). I remember showing up to my first class, and my teacher telling me to put my foot up on the wall(about level with my stomach) to stretch, and thinking to myself, man what have I gotten myself into, and when did I let myself go? Well, Taiji is not all “dance” and waving hands  in the air like the popularized image you see on TV and in movies, it is a martial art, and I had found an old school teacher! My teacher didn’t speak much English, nor did my classmates, and I ended up learning purely through Chinese! Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
My study of Taiji led me to becoming fascinated with traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, and other aspects of Chinese philosophy. It doesn’t have to be martial arts for you, though, your hobby could be anything! You could be interested in Chinese history, poetry, art, calligraphy…and the list goes on! The point is, find something that will make you passionate about Chinese and stick with it!

3. Make attainable short term goals along the way
This is a useful strategy for anything, really.  The idea is to set one or more long term goals, such as becoming fluent in Chinese, and many short term goals, such as being able to use your Chinese to take a cab, have a discussion on local politics, haggle at the traditional market, or tell jokes in Chinese. It doesn’t matter what they are really, just make sure that they are realisticly achievable, and the more so the better.
In fact, you could even make a time frame for your different goals, such as “in three months, I will be able to chat about daily events with my Chinese neighbor who doesn’t speak English”, or “I’ll be able to watch Chinese movies without English subtitles and understand most of the story within the next half a year” (notice I didn’t say “I’ll be able to understand all of it”, remember, realistic, attainable goals!). Goal setting helps you see where you are and how far you’ve come. It’s a powerful tool, so use it!

4. Have fun, lots of fun!
Having fun is so important to learning. Seriously, think about it for a second. If something is fun, you love doing it, if it’s not, then you have to force yourself to do it. So obvious, right? Yet it’s amazing how often this little fact is overlooked.
That’s why I made having fun a priority(productive fun, that is) in my classroom when I was teaching ESL in Taiwan. It always amazes me when I see or hear about teachers who just lecture lecture lecture away, talking at their students, not too them. Come on, I’m sure you hd teachers like this, heck, I know I did. Boring!  This type of learning isn’t engaging, it’s not interesting. As an adult, you wouldn’t put yourself through this, so why do people expect kids to stay focused through it? Luckily for you, you are an adult and you have a choice, so choose to have fun!
Bottom line is, if your bored out of your mind, your learning potential is seriously hampered, so do yourself a favor and make learning Chinese fun!
And, most importantly………

5. Give yourself a break!!!
Probably the biggest reason that anyone gives up before getting their Chinese where they want it to be, is simply that thy push themselves to hard, too soon. Just like with anything else, people are always looking for shortcuts to success and often dive head first into their studies, only to find themselves burnt out after a short period of time, Don’t make this mistake! Nobody is expecting you to speak like a native anytime soon, so chill out and enjoy yourself! Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself, think baby steps! Remember, like we said in point 4, it’s supposed to be fun!
There you are, there should be something or everyone to take home from this article, so now it’s up to you to keep these points in your mind as you continue your studies!
If this article was helpful, please check our more on my website eazychinese.com.