From my point of view, motivation is so closely linked with number two on our list, goals. (If you haven’t seen my list of Almost Everything You Need to Learn English, click here.) However, to me, goals are concrete, specifc, measurable things wheras motivation is a more general concept. For example, your motivation might be; to be able to speak English well enough to use it on holiday, but, a goal would be; to hold a conversation with an English speaker for 10 minutes, talking about particular topics of interest, by a certain date.
What motivation is. What motivates you to do anything?
In scientific terms it is said that motivation has two parts; directional and activated. Directional motivation is that which moves you either towards a positive outcome or away from a negative one. If you want to be a fluent English speaker, that is postive, going to English classes at work only because your boss will fire you if you don’t is negtive motivation.
Activated motivation is the seeking (looking for) and consequent liking of the process and is dependent on the amount of dopamine in your system. Anyway, I’m not a chemical scientist so I’ll stick to what I know best and concentrate on how motivation relates to learning a language.
What motivates you to learn English?
I don’t know! However, I can tell you what motivates me to learn Czech. Firstly, I live in the Czech Republic so being able to understand what is happening around me is immensly important. To be able to really understand your culture, I have to better understand your language. I love playing football and talking to people who are interested in football and this is a huge motivation for me to get better at Czech. I want to have deeper conversations about the culture of football as well as discussing the game itself. (The photo is of me with my friends from Berlin watching 1.F.C. Union Berlin.) I also love films and would really like to be able to watch more Czech films without English subtitles. I am a big fan of Svěrak and Smoljak and, as well as watching their films, I would like to understand the Cimrman plays. I have been to the Žižkov theatre but to the English performaces, which are excellent, however, to fully understand a Czech performance and be part of a Czech audience would be magic!
How can you find your motivation?
Think about reasons why bettering your English is a good idea, think about your interests in life, the things that really turn you on, and then try to connect the two together. If you really, really can’t think of something, maybe you have no reason or motivation, maybe you just don’t need to learn English after all.
Etymology of the word motivation.
“that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way”
Stimulus, motivator = stimul/podnět (stimulus in English)
What motivation does.
Motivation drives us forward, makes us get up in the morning, keeps us going when the going gets tough, prods us to take action, inspires us to be creative and gives us a positive, happy feeling (when it’s that positive motivation – striving towards something better).
Action to take.
Right now, take out a pen and paper and start to ‘brain dump’ your ideas. Anything you can think of that might be a reason to learn English, write down all your interests and look for connections between the interests and the reasons. Think about and write down how your life could be improved by improving your English and how you could positively affect the world, or at least your small part of it, by being a better English communicator. I’d love to know how you get on, so let me know in the comments below.