Where do you think desire to learn a language comes from?
Yes, it's great to cultivate a desire, a love, a passion for the language you're learning, but I wonder if sometimes that's not a bit too idealistic.
It might be all very well for me, with the good fortune to be able to live abroad, to talk about cultivating a passion for learning a language but… let's get real.
I know many people have busy lives, full of very real commitments that they can't afford to ignore.
In that situation, you might think it simply impossible to have the time to “cultivate a passion” for a foreign language.
So what then?
Can you persist with your learning, despite a bleak emotional landscape?
Should you start to doubt if you're worthy of the language and culture that you want to learn if you don't feel the passion inside?
Well, passion to learn a language doesn't have to come first.
If you don't have passion right now, it's no big deal.
It's absolutely possible for passion to be the product of work.
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If you start learning, put in a bit of work, stick to it for a while and make progress, you will start to feel something special.
What is that feeling?
I think it's a blend of pride and achievement. There are probably also some new neurological pathways being formed in your brain in the process, but it does just feel like something as simple as pride.
Learning Cantonese was tough for me.
A new language, few resources, impossible to read, no people to practise with. It was difficult to feel the passion at first.
But I took the “little bit everyday” approach, and sure enough, I gradually started to be able to remember words and form basic sentences.
Even small progress can be massively addictive, especially in the early stages.
And from that, came what is now an undeniable passion that I have for the Cantonese language.
When I was feeling down and I didn't have the motivation, I kept working anyway. Not a lot – maybe 15 minutes a day.
Passion came as a result of the work.
Who cares if it's not a deep passion that gushes forth from the bottom of your heart. Passion can be all about doing something for you, your own self-growth and achievement.
I think it works both ways.
So, if you're not feeling the passion right now… perhaps you shouldn't worry.
Get started anyway and see what happens.
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