Giving up on language learning

Are you thinking about giving up on language learning? I have given up on some languages. I have started studying many languages and stopped learning them for different reasons. It was usually timing and lack of motivation. It’s probably no surprise, but so you know, it’s the most normal thing. Sometimes the break is indefinite, other times it’s just a language you always come back to and cannot leave aside for a long time.

Recently, I started learning Korean. And as I am writing this, the idea of giving up on it has crossed my mind more than once. Although, I doubt that it will actually happen because I found a way to stick to it and hold myself accountable for learning it. I created a study group with other classmates, so in our WhatsApp group, we share cultural stuff and also do some catharsis. There we can share our experiences, joy, and frustration with the language. This was the first time that I learned a language in group lessons completely online. I believe there are many factors that influence our decisions on whether or not to stop studying a language: some are external and others are internal.

As for the external factors, we have other commitments, many other priorities, and maybe haven’t found a moment to devote to the language. Also, job responsibilities and projects can become a hurdle to our language learning goals. Usually, this makes us either double down and make it a priority or stop for a while and then come back because it’s simply bad timing.

Regarding the internal factors, we can name lack of motivation, boredom, other personal problems, and having too high expectations in our learning journey. All of this is understandable and sometimes it’s that we haven’t connected with the culture from which the language derives. Once we start releasing dopamine (“feel happy hormones”) when hearing or reading or speaking the language, giving up on it will become almost impossible.

Learning a new language is more than a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. In order to acquire the language, you need to engage with its culture, with its people because language is just a fraction of the culture. When we learn a language, we need to watch series, movies, listen to music and podcasts and books, and read, and talk in that language. This means that if you consume anything in the language you are not really giving up on it, you are just accessing it from a different angle.

In my case, I realized I needed more human connection to learn the language and this study group is helping me a lot. When the external factors come on the way, they share homework with me and we practice together.