Motivation is Key to Learning a Language

Tackling a new language isn’t easy. Like many people my language learning story began and ended in secondary school. After several years of French and one year of German, I could still only say the basics like ‘hello’ and ‘where is the cinema?’ so as soon as I had the option to drop them, I did. It was monotonous, repetitive and at the beginning of each school year we seemed to go back to square one. The memories I have of my language classes are bad videos from the 1980s and phrases one should never use in everyday life. Plus I rarely ever travelled outside of the UK, so all this language learning seemed to have no context whatsoever. It just wasn’t cool and in school, being cool seemed to matter.

Fast-forward to the present day and my attitude to languages is a little different. With all the travelling I do as a travel blogger, I am exposed to lots of different languages and I enjoy picking up the odd word or phrase along the way. I’m curious. I find it attractive when people speak more than one language and I am always impressed by people I meet from other countries who can just switch languages at the drop of a hat. Repeated exposure to a new language is a great way to learn, but sadly I still end up heavily relying on English. Since English is such an ‘international’ language, it’s very easy to become lazy and resort to my mother tongue all the time.

Over the last few years I’ve travelled through several continents- North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia- but I have yet to make it to South America. With the Brazil World Cup happening this year and the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil is without-a-doubt one of the most up-and-coming destinations for travellers. I plan to make it there in the not-too-distant future and decided it might be time to have another stab at language learning.

Football Brazil World CupWhich is why I’m learning Brazilian Portuguese with the TOTALe online course from Rosetta Stone. I already have a basic knowledge of some Portuguese vocabulary because I actually spent 6 months living and working in The Algarve, Portugal. So far I’ve Brazilian Portuguese is quite different in the pronunciation and even the words. I imagine it to be like the differences between American English and UK English, only a bit bigger.

Life is often a balancing act and the main thing I have struggled with is finding the time and the motivation to learn. Between work, emails, travel, errands, household chores and acting classes, it’s easy to just put the language learning on the backburner. The phone app is helpful though so I can learn while on the move, particularly on train or bus journeys, or when I’m just waiting around with nothing to do.

Success with language learning results from an actual desire to learn a language and interest in the particular language you have chosen. Like people who want to quit smoking, you have to actually want to do it otherwise it just won’t happen. Whether you’re trying to impress a member of the opposite sex or you’re moving overseas, or you just have a fascination with a particular country, there needs to be a solid motivation for wanting to learn the language.

Planning a trip to Brazil is as good a reason as any; let’s see if my motivation holds out!


Do you want to learn a language, too? Give it a try here🙂



Victoria is the author of the award-winning solo female travel blog and has been traveling the world since 2008. Originally from Manchester, she now spends much of her time on the road and loves to share her tips and experiences. Aside from learning a little bit of French in school, Victoria has never really learned a language…until now. Her love of Portugal and desire to visit Brazil has led her to finally bite the bullet and begin her language learning journey with Portuguese.

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