Why do people quit learning a language?

I’ve been there, and I know you’ve been there, too. You start learning a language, you are excited at first, you think you can make it and can’t wait to start communicating in this language, and then a few days (or weeks, or months) later, you just drop it.

Everyone has their reasons (or rather, lack of reasons), and sometimes it’s better this way, especially if you are not really motivated even at the very beginning, or if you are forced to learn this language. I know why I quit (I quickly lose interest and generally it’s hard for me to follow a routine) but I was curious to know why other people give up learning a language. So I asked the people on Reddit and Quora. Only one guy replied to my reddit thread saying he started learning Swedish because of his girlfriend but then they broke up so he’s not motivated anymore. Of course, that’s completely understandable – when you have only one reason to do something and then this reason is no longer valid it makes sense that you quit. But it can’t be just that, right?

The people on Quora were more responsive. They listed various reasons: it was difficult, they lost interest, lack of focus, no chance to practice, etc. There was this guy who said he’s not learning anything in his Spanish classes so he was going to quit and start studying something else he can actually use. And then, there was this other reply by someone who used to study Spanish in college but didn’t make any progress for two years, so she quit. Now, almost 20 years later, she is “fairly decent at speaking Spanish” because she started learning Spanish again a couple of years ago. The point is, it’s always easier to quit than to make an effort but if your goal is worth it, the efforts will be worth it, too.

Are you a quitter or a winner?
Are you a quitter or a winner?

As I mentioned, I also lose motivation easily and find it hard to stick to a routine and be persistent. I’ve failed learning German a couple of times because it seemed just too hard, yet I got from zero knowledge in French to intermediate level in 30 days. I achieved it because I was determined that I wanted to learn French, and I used various resources that I chose for myself, which kept learning enjoyable. So I honestly think the problem is not the people who are struggling to learn a language but the way we learn.

Traditional classroom methods are no longer effective. At least not for busy people, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but everyone seems busy nowadays, texting, scrolling, taking photos and sharing them from their phones. The truth is people get distracted more easily than ever before, and it affects the way we learn languages. It’s harder to stay focused for hours on end reading texts you don’t understand, memorizing words and listening to someone else talk about grammar. That’s why language learning needs to become much more personal, and mobile.

The good news is there are millions of resources online and you can use whichever you like. It’s also easy to find people online to practice your target language with. Just think about it: even if you live in a village in Ecuador with no native English people around, there are millions of English speaking people out there who you can connect with online. You don’t have the time? You need just 5 minutes 5 times a day, and if you dedicate this time to learning a language every day, you could be fluent in a year. Is it too difficult for you? Are you sure your learning method is in fact your learning method? As my favourite commenter on Quora said, anyone can learn to speak a foreign language.

Why did you quit learning the language you wanted to learn? Let me know in the comments below.

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