A woman, arms held out wide, feeling motivated while looking out over a valley

Boost Your Motivation to Learn Spanish: 10 Powerful Hacks to Stay on Course

Maintaining and even boosting motivation is the leading factor in succeeding in learning Spanish.

When you hit a roadblock, like challenging vocabulary or grammar rules, you might feel like giving up, but don’t!

There are new worlds, new cuisines and new people open to you as a Spanish speaker.

Read on to learn 10 key hacks, tips and methods to stay motivated on your Spanish learning journey!

Contents

1. Make a List of All the Reasons You’re Learning Spanish

When you start learning Spanish, your reasons probably seem obvious to you. You may want to travel, hope to have better job options, desire to experience unique cultures or even wish to connect with your own heritage.

However, when you feel like quitting, chances are you won’t think of any of these reasons.

That’s why you should make a list of all the reasons why you’re learning Spanish. Keep it in a handy place, ideally near where you study or with your study material.

Whenever you hit a roadblock that seems too challenging to overcome or you feel like skipping your usual study sesh, refer back to your list.

Reminding yourself of why you started learning Spanish in the first place can help you keep your focus and resolve.

2. Indulge in Authentic Spanish Media

Watching authentic Spanish-language media can be tremendously motivating. When you binge-watch something, you tend to feel truly involved in it. The popularity of shows like “Game of Thrones” just goes to show how effectively you can get sucked into a good show!

The same addictive properties can help motivate you to improve your Spanish skills. If your favorite material to watch is in Spanish, not only will watching it give you valuable practice, it’ll also give you the motivation you need to improve your skills so that you don’t need to lean on subtitles or keep looking up unfamiliar vocabulary.

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Netflix also offers a huge array of authentic, bingeable Spanish media, like “Narcos.” 

After watching hours of captivating TV, there’s a strong chance you’ll be much more passionate about improving your Spanish skills. At the very least, you’ll definitely pick up some maritime vocabulary for your next apocalyptic cruise.

Shorter videos featuring native speakers are also great learning resources. They can help you practice and learn a manageable amount of Spanish that doesn’t feel overwhelming. One resource for such content is the language learning program FluentU. It hosts a library of bite-sized authentic Spanish videos and equips them with learning tools.

Being so diverse in its content and format, authentic media can help make Spanish studies feel more engaging and dynamic. Plus, you’ll get to learn a bit more about Spanish culture as well!

3. Reward Yourself

Learning Spanish is pretty challenging, so you deserve a reward!

Giving yourself rewards along the way can help you recognize what you’ve accomplished and boost your morale for the future. This is called the theory of operant conditioning, which simply states that we’re more likely to keep doing a behavior if we receive a pleasurable outcome from it.

You can reward yourself for completing both short- and long-term goals to keep your motivation high as you go.

For instance, if you can’t get through the day without a handful of peanut M&Ms (they have valuable protein, after all), consider using your snack as an incentive to study. You don’t get your precious M&Ms until after you’ve studied Spanish for a set amount of time, like 15 minutes.

Not only will this help give you the motivation to study daily, but it could even help remind you to study when you might otherwise forget. When you get that M&M craving, you might recall that you need to study to earn them.

Heck, if you give yourself one M&M for every five minutes spent studying, you might soon find your study time ballooning from 15 minutes a day to 15 hours a day.

Rewards for long-term goals can also be valuable.

For instance, if you’re working through a course or textbook, you can set a reward for when you complete your next level. If you decide to treat yourself to an evening out with your best friend when you reach your goal, there’s a strong chance you’ll aim to get there a lot sooner.

4. Adopt Spanish Cultural Aspects

Research shows that adopting cultural aspects associated with a second language can improve learning. It goes without saying that it may also increase motivation to learn a language.

If you’re passionate about the culture associated with a language, you’re more likely to be interested in learning that language.

There are many ways to bring culture into your life. Celebrate the holidays, adopt the Spanish tradition of the siesta (nap) or start following the fashion trends of your favorite Spanish fashion blogger.

If you love the culture of a region where Spanish is spoken, you’re likely to feel more connected to it, which could, in turn, rekindle your love for the language.

5. Interact With (or Listen To) People in Spanish

Using your skills is a huge motivator to keep improving. It confirms that you’ve made progress, which can give you an unbeatable sense of accomplishment.

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Interact in Spanish whenever possible. If there are Spanish speakers around you, try to engage them in conversation. If not, you can always find a conversation partner through a service like Tandem.

If you’re finding it intimidating to talk to Spanish-speakers, just remember: even if they look at you funny, most will humor you and respond in Spanish.

Just imagine how you’d treat someone learning English: You’d probably want to help and encourage them! The feeling is mutual.

Help a Spanish-speaking tourist in her language (she’ll be thankful and relieved!). Ask a grocer you’ve heard speaking Spanish where the tomatoes are… in Spanish.

It’ll feel odd and be difficult at first, but the more you practice speaking Spanish, the more confident you’ll become.

And the wonderful feeling you get from the little interactions will rekindle your motivation for learning the language.

6. Plan a Trip to a Spanish-speaking Country

Planning a trip can be incredibly motivational, even if it’s entirely theoretical. That’s because the more you read about a place, the more you’ll want to go there.

And if you’re planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, you’ll feel super motivated to improve your skills so that it can be the trip of a lifetime (even if it never progresses past the planning stage).

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When you need a study break, just plan your dream vacation. Consider where you’ll stay, what sites you’ll visit, what food you’ll eat and what you’ll do when you’re there. Dive into Lonely Planet and look up your favorite Spanish-speaking countries to see what you might do on a trip.

You might even print out your favorite pictures to look at whenever you need an extra motivational boost to keep you going.

7. Eat the Spanish Language

There are so many delicious dishes that have come from the world’s Spanish-speaking countries. Without this cuisine, we wouldn’t have tapas, tacos, enchiladas and more!

So why not use food as your entry point into maintaining motivation while learning Spanish?

Not only can you go to Spanish and Mexican restaurants and order in Spanish, you can use Spanish recipes at home, watch Spanish cooking shows on YouTube and post your own recipes all in Spanish.

Try making dishes from Latin America or Spain whenever you need a quick shot of motivation. Make a paella. Perfect your favorite tamale recipe—then make them a Christmas tradition. Even your churros addiction could fuel your motivation to learn Spanish.

By using the stomach as your motivation, you’ll develop a meaningful connection to the Spanish language that will keep you motivated on your learning pathway.

8. Join a Spanish-speaking Community

Since there are over 450 million Spanish speakers on planet earth, there’s usually a Spanish-speaking community that’s close to where you live.

Look up groups on Facebook. A quick search for my town in California yielded some interesting results: a Spanish-speaking cooking class, a pickleball league and a knitting club are all within five miles of my house. 

Send an introductory email and join!

9. Date in Spanish

They say that the quickest way to language success is by dating someone who speaks the language you want to speak. And I know that it’s true from personal experience.

Why not switch over your Tinder profile to Spanish speakers, and find some interesting people in your area to go out with? I promise that if you fall in love (or even like) with a Spanish-speaking person, this will be all the motivation you need to keep studying the language.

10. Track Your Spanish Progress

Tracking your progress is important to stay motivated because it’s a reminder that, yes, you are progressing! 

This is a very important self-check in your journey. To do this, I would suggest taking Spanish level quizzes, which are available everywhere online these days for free. One that I like to use is by Preply.

Test yourself and don’t get frustrated if you score lower occasionally. It happens! But overall, this method will keep you motivated and learning.

 

Here’s a great video that has even more advice to stay motivated while learning Spanish:

Why Does Boosting Motivation to Learn Spanish Matter?

First and foremost, motivation directly impacts learning.

In fact, one study found that motivation may be one of the main factors that affect language learning. After all, your motivation can impact how frequently you interact with native speakers, how you use learning strategies and so much more.

Proper motivation can also make learning more enjoyable. If you’re truly passionate about learning Spanish, studying won’t seem like work. Instead, it’ll feel like an important step towards your goal.

Finally, motivation is the key to fluency. Becoming fluent in Spanish can be a long process. Participating in a Spanish immersion abroad or volunteering in Latin America can help propel you towards fluency, but full fluency may take longer than just these experiences alone.

Since you won’t learn Spanish overnight, reaching fluency will require plenty of motivation to keep you going when you feel like quitting.

Many of us have felt that loss of motivation dragging us down. Sometimes you stop and wonder “Why am I really doing this? Is it worth it?”

If you’re experiencing a foreign language “crisis of faith,” or if you’ve hit that dreaded learning plateau and feel like you’ll never break away from it, here are six ways to get back on the saddle!

 

It’s no mystery that learning Spanish requires proper motivation. With these simple methods, you’ll never be left searching for a motive.

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