8. December 2012

Swedish in Sweden - Musings about Motivation

Musings about motivation: the last part of a series in favor of learning Swedish while in Sweden.

The article series covered a range of issues: getting motivated to learn Swedish, helping oneself with online tools, gathering new input, learning to listen, and practicing and rehearsing in order to maintain acquired language skills. Going full circle, I want to come back to the aspect which I consider most important — motivation.

Motivation is indeed a fascinating topic by itself. We can roughly distinguish between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Unfortunately, I lack education in these topics. However, I can still connect motivation to the field of language learning. After all, everyone has a life-long experience in motivation.

Language learning is a long-term activity that takes time and efforts and it usually takes some time to see the return of your investment. After all, thousands of words and phrases are required to speak a language fluently. Fortunately, there is the concept of deferred gratification. I guess, deferred gratification is one of the key abilities for a language learner. For example, when we speak with someone who is able to speak both English and Swedish, which language do you choose? If we opt for English, we get a reward immediately – information without efforts. If we pick Swedish, and we are on a beginner’s level, the same information will come at a higher cost. However, because we practice and start lose your inhibition to talk, there will be a significant long-time reward. Deferred gratification – it is up to us to choose.

However, there is one issue with deferred gratification. What is our reward, exactly? If the reward is passing a language test, there is a good chance that we lose interest after passing the language test (overjustification effect). Worse, if the future reward is the only source of motivation for us to keep studying, then it is likely that we will not have a comfortable time when studying.

There are lots of good reason to learn the countries’ language one is living in. We get the keys to the job market, we have better chances to carry emotional content in our conversations, we gain status, and we can conveniently exchange information. These benefits might be part of our extrinsical motivation. What about the intrinsical motivation? Well, everyone of us probably knows best what makes him or her study the language apart from external stimuli. No standard answer. For me, language learning is fun by itself.


All articles in this series:

  1. Swedish in Sweden
  2. Swedish in Sweden – Translation Tools
  3. Swedish in Sweden – Gathering New Input
  4. Swedish in Sweden – Learning to Listen
  5. Swedish in Sweden – Practice and Rehearsal
  6. Swedish in Sweden – Musings about Motivation