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What do you use instead of willpower?

  Tags: Motivation
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
33 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4 5  Next >>

United States
Joined 3934 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1 of 33
11 July 2012 at 5:19pm | IP Logged 
I learned the hard way that willpower is a very limited resource. If I rely on nothing
but raw willpower, I can devote maybe 20 hours to studying a language, to
exercise, or to any other activity. Sometimes, I'm sad to say, it's more like 2 hours.

Unfortunately, learning a language requires several hundred to a couple thousand hours,
day after day after day.

So I've learned little tricks to stretch out my meager willpower. Here are a few of my
  • The 30 day trial, which builds a daily habit.
    Works well with a Seinfeld calendar.

  • Surrounding myself with cool French books and series, and finding addictive French

  • Arranging my life so that I have to communicate in French.

  • Slow and steady use of Anki.

Are you strong-willed enough to make it to the "finish line" without tricks like this?
Do you run on pure obsession? How do you do it?
6 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 4999 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 2 of 33
11 July 2012 at 5:51pm | IP Logged 
As a female, I keep track of my cycle to know what might motivate me now. It's not like I use this to decide what I want, but that's what I do when I don't want anything/don't know what I want. I just get ideas from knowing about myself and my hormones.
3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5558 days ago

4228 posts - 8256 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 Message 3 of 33
11 July 2012 at 6:45pm | IP Logged 
Assuming that I'm studying a language that I really want to study, I've found myself boosting my willpower by being / getting in regular contact with native speakers of the target language (including travel to regions where the target language is used natively, when feasible) and/or taking in a small amount of authentic materials ranging from signs to songs to cartoons to short texts in that language even if much of it is incomprehensible; there'll be at least a few words or sentences that I can understand or relate to something that I've studied already.

3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3261 days ago

890 posts - 1190 votes 
Speaks: Polish*, English, Bulgarian, Croatian
Studies: Slovenian, Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Swedish, German, Italian, Armenian, Kurdish

 Message 4 of 33
11 July 2012 at 9:01pm | IP Logged 
@emk - you haven't included good French music on the list? Shame on you!
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3621 days ago

564 posts - 839 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, SpanishB2, FrenchB2
Studies: Arabic (Egyptian), Russian, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Persian, Vietnamese
Studies: Urdu

 Message 5 of 33
11 July 2012 at 10:02pm | IP Logged 
I incentive myself with little trips to target countries. I'm off to Spain at the end of the month. There will be a lot of Germans around so double bubble for me.

2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 4168 days ago

2256 posts - 4045 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 Message 6 of 33
12 July 2012 at 12:35am | IP Logged 
I only use interesting material. If it's not interesting, I find something about it that is interesting, or find other material.

Oh, and chocolate.

The thing is, nobody manages any kind of complex task on sheer will power alone, meaning the task, like studying, is aversive but one forces oneself to do it anyways. Like cleaning the toilet. No, what's necessary is habit and good ressource management. It seems some people are naturally good at creating routines and habits. I'm not one of them, so I have to do it consciously. If somebody judges me because they don't need to think about their own ressource management, I will feel free to poke fun at them using one of the skills I excel at. Or just ignore them. Or offer them chocolate.
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3270 days ago

1181 posts - 1912 votes 
Speaks: German*, EnglishC2, Korean
Studies: Persian

 Message 7 of 33
12 July 2012 at 2:04am | IP Logged 
I use the mighty power of procrastination. Just schedule something else you have to do and see how happy you're suddenly with devoting lots of time to something you don't have to do, namely language study. Basically, I don't see my language study as a task to be completed. It's something I do because I like it and it's a bonus that it's something productive.

Whenever I decide to 'really' study - like inputting things into Anki and learning vocabulary, I try to make it as fun as possible. I'm experimenting with card layout, for example. I started with boring L1-L2 type cards, then went on to mainly study with audio sentence. The latest deck I've created contains words from a list for the next language exam. I take those and search for interesting sentences that contain them on google, wikipedia or in an online dictionary. For Example, for "finals" I took a sentence about the soccer match Italy vs. Spain, for "prosecutor" I took a sentence about a TV series I watched. When possible I also add pictures and try to choose ones that I find memorable. Lots of them show things I connect with Korea and I'm happy to look at them. Just making the cards is fun and already part of the study process. The more I like the cards the easier it is to remember the words.

When I get bored with one routine I move on to something else. That's the beauty of language study, isn't it? It's complex, so we have to use many different approaches. It can be difficult, but if it gets boring I'm convinced that you're doing it wrong. Language can always be a means for doing something you enjoy. That's why I wouldn't call the things you've listed "tricks" - I'd call them highly effective study methods.
7 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 4817 days ago

117 posts - 170 votes 
Speaks: English*

 Message 8 of 33
12 July 2012 at 3:07am | IP Logged 
Seinfeld calendar is an excellent read. Compound interest in learning seems to work very similarly to finance. Another reason why I TRY not to look at other languages while hitting my main target.

I mean I do "look" or "flirt" with other languages but don't study them yet.

1 person has voted this message useful

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