I'm sharing the FIVE ground rules for staying motivated when learning English (even if your TED talk is not yet scheduled ;)

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How to stay MOTIVATED when learning ENGLISH | 5 ground rules

I’ve been wanting to meditate every morning for the past 2.5 years.
Every time I start, it only lasts for a few days and then I quit or simply forget about it.
You’re probably saying to yourself now: “Guess that’s just not high on your priority list, Hadar”.
But it is, oh man, it is.
I know that it’s going to help me.
Give me some white space in that monkey mind of mine.
So why don’t I do it?

Has that ever happened to you?
Have you ever started something and then.. stopped?
Has that ever happened to you with English?

You wanted to improve your fluency, pronunciation, clarity, confidence, grammar or vocabulary…
You did a thing or two online, you took a class, but –
You didn’t stick to it.
Even though I know it’s high on your priority list.

Now, while I’m a hot mess when it comes to meditation,
Luckily I’m on top of it when it comes to English.
My own skills and abilities were acquired through hard work without giving up or seizing to believe in myself.

But I also know that YOU might be struggling with staying motivated as you learn and practice English, just as I struggle with meditation.
You see, when learning English, there’s usually no clear deadline or super specific goal. There is no finish line after which you say to yourself, now I can rest.
And this ambiguity and uncertainty make it hard to follow through and to stay motivated.

FIVE ground rules for staying motivated when learning English

In this week’s video, I’m sharing the FIVE ground rules for staying motivated when learning English (even if your TED talk is not yet scheduled 😉

Do not procrastinate on this one. Free up 15 minutes of your time and watch this lesson,
even if it’s just to see me do a funny dance. Click to Watch the video.

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, welcome. It’s Hadar and today we’re gonna talk about the ground rules that will help you stay motivated when you’re learning English, especially if you’re learning English on your own.

So, you all know this – when you’re embarking on a new journey, when you’re starting something new, whether it’s starting to learn a new language, or starting to work out, or go on a new diet, then we start strong. We’re very motivated. Things are working well for us until they don’t anymore, until we get discouraged, until the body starts resisting the change and until we start saying to ourselves, “I don’t see results so maybe I’m not really good at it. Maybe I just can’t do it. I’m not good at learning languages. Working out, it’s just not for me.”

So, here’s the thing – it’s very natural for us to stay in our comfort zone. It’s human nature to resist change. It’s scary. We don’t know what’s out there, right? It doesn’t feel right to fail and to make mistakes, but here’s the thing: that’s the only way to reach your goals, to see results and to achieve the things that you want to achieve, especially with language learning.

So, the way I see it is that if you’re learning on your own, you have to do a few things deliberately, or you have to keep a few ground rules that will help you stay motivated and do it for the long run.

So here are my five ground rules to staying motivated when learning a new language, especially English.

Number 1: You have to remember your ‘why’.

Learning English is not the goal. Learning English is the means to reach your true goals. What are your true goals? Now, I really want you to dig deep and to think what are the things that you wish for yourself that you know that you need English for. Is it changing your job or a position in the company?

Would you like to manage teams or teach people? Do you want to speak in public more? Right? What are the things and there are no dreams that are too big. Okay? So, think big right now. I want you to think big and really visualize yourself, and what would you do if English was not an obstacle, if you had perfect English, and I want you to remind yourself of that every single time before you start learning. Visualize yourself in that position, in that country, doing that thing, speaking to the people you want to speak with, before you’re starting.

So, you have to be very specific and focused about what you really wish for yourself. Because when you visualize it and you see it, it stimulates you. And that feeling, that excitement that you feel will get you passionate about the next 10 minutes, 15 minutes, hour and a half that you are learning, that you’re studying. Because the actual work is boring. What you’re going to achieve is the interesting part.

So, you have to always remind yourself what is your ‘why’. Why are you learning English? When I go online and research for English learning materials, I find the materials so incredibly boring. I mean, I see these dialogues and they’re like, no one speaks like that. It feels like it’s meant for kids. And the situations and the quizzes have all these silly sentences. No, I’m not saying you can’t use silly sentences, but when you do it over and over again it doesn’t really trigger anything intellectual in your brain, and then you get bored. And when you get bored you get discouraged, and frustrated, and then you think it’s your fault.

So do the things that interest you. So, I’m recommending for you to become a bit more creative and engaged in creating the materials that you’re using to learn. Learning English does not have to be learning from online resources for English learners and the Internet is packed with materials in English – podcasts, articles, books, YouTube videos, Facebook groups that encourage conversation.

So instead of settling for the simple solution and being a little lazy about it, you know just downloading quizzes or tasks that are online, create your own practice exercises. So, for example, it could be ‘read an article and mark all the interesting or important words and then create a different text using these words’ or ‘listen to a podcast and echo it, repeat it, shadow it’ or ‘take a TED talk and try to understand the concept of the talk and then teach it to someone or speak about it’. Record yourself as if you’re teaching someone.

Okay, there are tons of ideas of what you could do. Pick a monologue from a movie that you really like and memorize it, and pretend that you are the actor and do it full-out in front of a mirror. So do things that interest you and inspire you and, of course, create situations where

you can actually talk to people and practice your speaking skills. Because, remember, that that’s the most important thing and talking to people is always, I mean, not always, sometimes they can get boring, but talking to interesting people, people that you like in English is the best way for you to advance and to practice your speaking skills.

The 3rd thing is stay focused and keep the flow.

The way we’re wired is that when we start doing things, it doesn’t matter what it is whether it’s doing your job, writing something, or practicing your English. It takes time until we get to the zone. That zone of flow where everything is just, like, coming out of us. That we lose track of time and things are going really well, and we feel that we’re actually doing something, that we’re advancing.

Now, you can lose that state of flow and focus like this [snap]. Can you guess – how long it takes you to regain your focus after one small distraction? So, let’s say, you’re in the state of flow, you’re doing things really well and then you get distracted. Do you know how long it takes to get back on track, or to get back to the same focus?

Yes, according to a recent research conducted at the University of California, for most people it takes about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to exactly where you were after one distraction. “Oh, someone texted me. Okay let’s continue practicing”. Or phone call, “Hey! What’s up? No, I’m practicing my English right now. I’m studying English. I can’t talk. So, oh really? Sally? So cool! Okay, I’ll talk to you later.”

Okay, where was I? Twenty-three minutes and 15 seconds later, maybe you’ll get back to your flow. Now we do this all the time. We get distracted all the time, especially with those freaking phones. I know that because when I write content or when I make videos or when I have to write a complex price proposal, then, whenever it gets difficult challenging when I need to think a little harder, you know what I do? I look at my phone. I check my Facebook group. I look for WhatsApp notifications, and then I go back to it, and like you know – where was I?

And you know what I did? I started putting post-it notes on my computer saying ‘If you open Facebook you’ll have less time to sleep.’ ‘If you open Facebook that means less time with your girls’. Because it takes me longer to do it. Now, since you have a period of time where you can learn so it’s not like you deprive yourself of doing other things, but what you do is you don’t get into that flow.

And when you don’t get into that flow, then you don’t see the change. You don’t feel empowered. You don’t feel like, ‘Hey, something’s clicking here. This is working for me. Hey, I feel great! I sound great! I see results. I hear results.’ Right, because when you’re don’t get into that flow you don’t you don’t see all that. You don’t get all that and then when you constantly don’t see results day-in day-out, then you get discouraged. Then, you’re not gonna stay motivated, because we only stay motivated when we see and feel the change.

When you learn English there are a few things that you need to learn. There is grammar and accent, which there you have intonation and pronunciation, and all of these things. You know where they are for you. And when you sit down getting ready to learn something then you’re like, “Okay, today I’m gonna work on my vocabulary.”

Now, vocabulary is a huge thing. There is like so many layers to learning vocabulary. What are you trying to do? What kind of vocabulary are you trying to learn? Are you trying to learn vocabulary meaning to learn new words, or maybe you’re trying to use them in context? Maybe you want to work on the pronunciation of the words that you usually don’t use?

Right? You’ve got to be very specific about what you’re practicing. So, when you’re telling to yourself, ‘Okay, today my task is to learn to improve my vocabulary.’ Nice, right? And then you’re like, ‘learning three words’. And at the end of the day you’re like, ‘I learned three words and there are like a billion words in English. This is a very lame. It’s like I’m terrible. I’m so behind. I will never be able to do it’.

Because learning vocabulary is overwhelming and it feels unattainable. But when you’re saying to yourself, ‘Be specific. Learn food vocabulary.’ Or ‘Let’s learn transition words’, or maybe ‘food vocabulary that is related to ordering in restaurants because I always get stuck in restaurants.’ Okay?

So, this is what you’re trying to achieve. You have X which is like, it’s very clear, right, what you’re trying to get and then you can actually do it, but ‘enhance vocabulary’ is huge and you won’t feel like you can check it off your list, because there’s always something to learn. But when you say to yourself, ‘Okay, but my goal was to learn just these five six words’ I can do it within a week. Eight? And to learn that means not to know it, but to actually start using it freely. Okay, then you can say, ‘Check, I did it.’ You feel accomplished. You feel the progress. You stay motivated.

The last ground rule is – make it sustainable. Okay? So even if you’re really passionate at first, don’t start big. Start small but keep it small. Sustain it. Be persistent. The idea is to do it for the long run. Right? And if you started by saying, ‘I’m gonna practice for two hours every single day’, great but not great. Because let me tell you this – it’s not going to last. It will last for a few weeks, maybe a few months. But then you’ll get into this mode of all-or-nothing, because you got used to practicing two hours every day, and now you don’t have those two hours. You have a new baby, or a new job, or you get bored with it now, it’s not interesting to you anymore, and then another day goes by and you don’t do it. Another day and then you fall off the wagon and it’s really hard to get back on. Okay? Remember that.

So instead of practicing a lot at the beginning, stop yourself. An hour? It’s great. It’s amazing to practice your English, but 30 minutes is also amazing, if you manage to achieve what you set out for yourself to do. And you know what? 15 minutes is better than nothing because it’s not all or nothing. So, make it sustainable, be persistent, and make sure you’re here to do it for the long run.

Now, the last thing I recommend for you to do is – no this is not a ground rule, but let’s call it friendly advice – I want you to create a fun and empowering ritual at the end of each practice. So, every day, at the end of your practice I want you to have the sentence that you say to yourself. Something like, ‘I did well (not ‘I sucked’). I did well. I’m improving. Tomorrow I’m going to be even better. I’m gonna kick butt.’

Or, you can do the English learning dance – ‘I did it. I did it. I’m speaking. I’m speaking. Who’s speaking? I’m speaking. Who’s awesome? I’m awesome. I learned English.’ Whatever works for you. But the most important thing is acknowledge your work, acknowledge your improvement, and to say to yourself that you are a freaking rock star. Remember that! Because you’re speaking another language and you cannot take it for granted. Okay? That’s it.

So, now, I’m curious, I want you to scroll down and let me know in the comments below what is your ‘why’? Why do you want to become fluent in English? Why would you like to achieve? What are your your secret goals? And remember – there are no dreams that are too big. So, let us know. And also, what motivates you? Let’s add it up and let’s keep each other motivated.

Okay, that’s it! Thank you so much for watching. If you like this video, do not forget to like it, or to subscribe, or to share it with your friends. Share the love. Spread the love. I love you. Thank you so much and I will see you next week in the next video.


The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
3. How to Stay Motivated When Learning English
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After watching the video, you’ll see that the first rule is to find your ‘why’.
The big reason why you want to master English.

I want to share with you that the reason why I never lost my motivation to learn and improve my English is that I was always very clear on my ‘why’.
You want to know what it is?
My ‘why’, is to simplify English for others, the way I was able to simplify it for myself
and to connect with people from all around the world

What’s your ‘why’?
I’m dying to know. Share it with me in the comments below!
If you have any tips about how to be more consistent with meditation, I want to read them too! 😉

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24 Responses

  1. Hi Hadar,I love watching your enthusiasm and motivating videos. You make learning the English process, easy, funny and efficient.I am a Spanish native man who has been studied the English language badly for decades due to our education system. That`s why I decided to take advantage of technology resources so that I can learn by my self. I am utterly grateful to you and appreciate so much all you are doing to help people like me.My dream is to become a fluent English speaker so that we canlive abroad in 2 o 3 years. Thanks a olot Hadar!!

  2. Hi Teacher<
    Thank you very much for sharing the videos LOVE them, I am not kidding "YOU ARE THE BEST"
    I am from Costa Rica, Leaving in PA
    🙂

  3. Hi hadar,
    Thanks for sending this amazing video as every you send i love it, i love the simple way to explain and give us tips, so useful. Thanks

  4. Hi Hadar 🙂 🙂

    I left my ‘why’ on your YT channel so I won’t repeat it. If someone want to look at it I’ll give a link below:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAx7X_jvHcU&t=47s

    If you discipline yourself every single day for minimum 21 days you will catch a good habit 🙂
    You can believe it because it is a fact 🙂
    Think about what you expect from meditation.
    Firstly I know it might be hard. But if you find some time (e.g. 10 minutes in the morning or 10 minutes in the evening everyday not necessary in the same time) you will see that every next day stay easier to do it, to continue it.
    I recommend start since 5 min and gradually adding a one minute more per day or add 5 minutes more per week. You can sit down, relax yourself, your body, your mind, start from slowly deep breath, and concentrate on your breath.
    In first month could be difficult stay and keep practice regularly everyday meditation. But it worth it. Next month will be easier 😀

    A human being need 3 weeks to create a new neurological path in brain to create a new habit. Some medical research proved it.

    I checked on myself as well. For example everyday a few minutes I’ve made some exercise like simple, basic plank or jump on skipping–rope 150 jumping without skewing and make some stretched exercise 🙂 I’m not young like 20 years old haha but I feel mentalny young ^^.
    Remember discipline strengthens human character. When I finish this exercise I feel happier 😀 Maybe it sound silly but it is, seriously 😀 It works similar with meditation.

    Have you chosen one of the ways of meditation (yet)?
    Or maybe have you consider one of them which one to pick up?
    I don’t know what do you know about meditation at the moment 🙂 What do you know about Taiji/Chi/Prana/Kriya ki, Kundalini etc.

    What the meditation can give us ?
    I think not only clear, calm, some white space in that monkey mind (it could stopped of trylion cyclons thoughts in human head :)) but you can receive a lot of benefits when you will be practicing meditation. It helps to be right here, right now, not to be in the past or in the future… 🙂
    After meditation you can feel something good internal, also good mood, good energy in your body, calm, peace, positive attitude to do something good etc. etc

    I have been deepening my knowledge in this field.

    You can also consider what stops you to practice meditation. Why it stopped you?, it could be important reason for you. Ask yourself, what it is?
    Maybe your ego or something else is blocking you. Find it and rid of that obstacle, throw it into an infinite abyss – forever and enjoy yourself positive energy 🙂

    Best regards 😀

  5. Hello Hadar…
    First of all I’m thankful for the mail. I always love the way you teach and making things more simpler for better understanding. The reason for my ‘why’ is that i want to improve my communication skills in English and sounds more natural.
    Once again thanks for all the great works…
    Best regards,
    Sneha

  6. Hi Hadar !

    This is my 3rd comment but I feel the question you raised is so important that multiple commentary can be justified. Motivation, particularly sustained motivation requires a set of decisions. E.g. one has to decide between engaging with entertainment or to continue practising English. Singular decisions may be sometimes difficult. (Some psychologists point out for instance the psycho-linguistic identity of the roots in the verbs like de-cide, homi-cide, sui-cide.)
    My motivation to start to engage with practising English on an every-day basis needs for instance the decision to undertake to expose my elderly voice worsened by chronic laryngitis to foreign people. That is not so simple. (In fact, 5 of my talking partners have given up joint discussions we have started on the Skype.) Fortunately, I can find English speaking people in my home environment.
    Of course, I haven’t given up yet hoping to find speaking partners on the internet. And the reason is simple. I would feel if I quitted practising English talking person-to-person I would loose a part of my personality. In the the quite long part of my active period the English language had been a significant part of my life. About that I have written in my other comments. Laszlo Latzkovits

  7. Hi Hadar !
    This is Laszlo again. I feel I have to supplement what I have written above.
    I think every man or woman may have sometimes motivation problems. It may be a result from temporary bad mood. Of course, I also experienced over the passed quite long time that I didn’t start with a plan when I had wanted earlier. I myself I have never been good at keeping a time schedule. On the other hand, I usually found people who had always acted an absolutely precise way, a little boring. Healthy people daydream and these daydreams many times interfere with setting our mind to focus upon a certain goal.
    Of course, an achievement may need strong concentration of the mind conducted every day on a long run. But good to know when learning a language that playful mindset is much more effective than the boring one.
    Starting every day with meditation seems for me a hard job. I have never tried to do.
    Thank you again for the superb video. Laszlo

  8. Hi Hadar !
    Thank yo so much for sending your video !
    I’m perhaps a bit special case because in few days I’m going to be 84 years old. Over my relatively long life I became a physician (MD), specialized in psychiatry, conducted and published (mostly in English) a lot of bio-medical research so I soon got the degree of PhD (in biology) and later (after having stayed 2 years in France and thereafter more than 4 years in the USA) I became the Doctor of Science (biology). At international meetings and seminars I delivered lectures in English quite often. I did teaching in English. For all of that I needed first of all a fluent English, some German and a bit French, as well.
    Therefore, I simply didn’t need motivation for foreign language learning. Particularly, for learning the English. It was simply a part of my life. I usually prepared myself for exams from books written in English or German
    However, things had changed after my retirement. My contact with the living, spoken English has loosened. I have read a lot in English (most of my private library consists of books written in English or German). Still I read in English almost as fluent as in Hungarian. (My native tongue.)
    However I have got less and less opportunity to speak in English. Although, I got sometimes English speaking students as patients. Consequently, my fluency started to get staled a bit 10-15 years after my retirement.
    I have to admit I have never approached learning a foreign language by a pure utilitarian way. For me it has never bore an exclusive significance that the audience better judges my lecture if my deliver is fluent and my accent reminds of the native one. I knew the content of my lecture, the presented scientific findings counted more. I know it was the special advantage of my field.
    So, I learned foreign languages also to read foreign art literature in original. Or read, e.g. Japanese literature in good English translation. (Unfortunately I don’t speak Japanese.)
    Nevertheless, when I observed that the fluency of my speech was getting worsened I panicked a bit. I felt if I were going to lose a part of my personality.

    And that is my main motivation for my intensifying again at 84 my practising the English speaking. I don’t want to loose a part o my personality.
    Laszlo Latzkovits

  9. Hi Hadar
    I am Asif from India and one of the members of your Fluenzy Challenge Group. Like many people I too can write good english but at same time not able to communicate verbally well. Here we don’t use english for speaking but use it only for texting in social media and in official letters. 99.99% of the time we use regional languages and that is the main stumnlimg block of fluenzy. My ‘why’ is I want to be a good speaker in english and be able to speak before an audience or a group of people at ease!! The mere thought of it makes me thrilled!! Definitely my confidence level will ve very high if I am fluent in english. And this confidence is the essence of our success in life. That means to be able to succeed in life one must be confident and this can be achieved once you become very fluent!! So kindly help me all possible help to achieve that status!!
    Thank you
    Best Regards
    Asif

  10. Hi Hadar
    Thank u for the mail to me. Ur speeches are really fantastic. It arouses great energy in me. As an Indian,where the meditatation technique was first originated, I know the various techniques of meditation.you start from basic meditation technique that is sit comfortably on a floor or a chair somewhere away from noise.start breathing as usual and concentrate on the breathe.
    Do remember spend less time in the early days and and when days passed by you can add more techniques and more time
    As of this why I wanted to become an effective English teacher.
    With lots of wishes
    Biju

  11. hello Hadar!!!
    I started listening you yesterday… but you are really great speaker!! you are really cute…
    i am student of electrical engineering.. and i want to become fluent in english only for a better position in my class.

    thanks again for your amazing videos…
    best regards,

    Zari…

  12. Hello Hadar
    Thank you for your lectures on improving English communication skills.
    My reason ‘why’ is to improve my communication skills in work and in daily activities.
    When I tried to express my thoughts on any topic and not able to express completely and effectively.

    Your suggestions will be highly appreciated.

    Thank you

  13. Hi Hadar,
    First I have to say you are really inspiring by the way in which you are teaching. And, what is not incidental, I confirmed by my American friends you are an outstanding English speaker. As for me, when I wonder what is my ”why”, this brings me to the conclusion it is just to repair a kind of ”infirmity”. English isn’t a foreign language for me but a universal one. The funny – if I may say so – issue is I was pretty good at learning languages such as German, Russian and Latine at school (very very long ago). And it is much more difficult for me with English. I discovered recently English was a ”analogical” tongue unlike the ones I mentioned. Whatever, it will take the time it takes but my dream is to be able to give a lecture like Ted Talks for example and in English of course. I just hope I will be able to walk without walker at that point!
    Thank you again for your communicative energy.
    Kind regards.
    Eric

  14. Hello man thank you so much for this email actually I too feel the problem of motivation as I always start learning English but after some time I fed up because I think it’s not working nicely. I want to be fluent speaker in English because in my working place I have to communicate with other in English there is no option for my native language. I have all degree and qualifications only the barrier in my career is English so I have to work on it to improve my pronunciation and fluency. Your videos give me motivation that’s why I am really thankful to you .

  15. Hello Hadar,
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge to the world. I am suffering every single day being intimidated with my colleagues at work because of my poor English speaking ability. I can understand English very well but I always lost my mind when someone is talking to me. I get easily distracted and totally get lost. My why is that I really want to be able to communicate well in English and my dream is to become a great public speaker and motivator in my work place and I don’t want this kind of feeling being nuisance to others. Your advice will be very much appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Carlos

  16. Hi Hadar,
    I really enjoy watching your videos. I have learned so much from you. I took some ESL classes years ago, which it has helped me a lot, but I feel that I need to learn more. My accent still there, which is ok, what it really bothers me is my pronunciation and lack of vocabulary. A month ago I got promoted to a supervisor in the department that I work for. I am super happy because I never dream that that could be possible. When I think of write something I still get nervous and just to think that I might won’t be able to do it it makes me sad. Whoever, am going to do my best by learning as much as I can. One of my goals for the year is to study five hours of the week, but I can feel already that am not doing it. My dream is that once I improved my English I might get the managers position.
    Thank you so much for your support.

  17. Hello, dear harder,
    When somebody relates their life with some videos, they appreciate those videos. I’m now exactly the same state of mind. Because of I can relate some of those tips of yours with my life. I applied some of those tips in the unconscious mind when my life was chaotic and our this journey is a long journey there would be ups and downs in our motivation! And you are a rock and beautiful teacher with full of energy and motivation when I see you I automatically get energized. Lots of thanks and a virtual hug!:)

  18. Dear teacher, thank you for the very enlightening videos you send to so many English students around the world, like me for example. My feeling is eternally grateful to you for this.

  19. Hello Hadar,
    Thanks for sharing your great knowledge and enthusiasm, I really appreciate and enjoyed.
    I really want to improve my English pronunciation, I am a Spanish native speaker and I live in the USA. I can write and read English well, but my accent and pronunciation need help. Right now I trying to obtain my real estate license and I would like to learn more words in that are specifically. Any recommendations in this matter I will really appreciated.

    Thanks again!
    Best regards,

    Jose

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