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6 Reasons Why You Feel Discouraged When Learning English and What To Do About It

Greetings, English learners! 

We get it, sometimes, no matter our intention (e.g., I want to learn English so I can have better career opportunities!) We still feel discouraged, demotivated, tired, and stuck in a rut. 

Don’t worry, you are not alone! 

This loss of motivation hits everyone – from students, to office executives, and even parents. No one is immune to it, 

In your case, you might procrastinate learning and don’t do your study routines. Chances are, you feel guilty about it, but it’s simply too hard to just do it. Our brain might be telling us to study, even screaming at us, but it feels as though our body is paralyzed. 

In this article, we are going to identify some possible reasons why you might feel unmotivated to learn English – and what to do about it.

1. Your teacher is awful

When it comes to learning English, this is honestly one of the most common reasons why people lose their motivation to learn English. 

If you learn English with a teacher (not on your own), it’s very important that you have a competent teacher. We hate to say it, but just because someone graduated with a degree in English Literature or English Education does not mean that they are automatically a good teacher. 

We’ve made an article identifying the signs of a great teacher. Make sure that your teacher fulfils all these criteria because if not, you run the risk of making your learning process confusing and not enjoyable. 

The importance of a good teacher cannot be overstated. Having a good teacher is priceless. It’s an investment that will pay you back a thousandfold in the future. Your teacher really will make or break your learning experience. Which brings us to our tip.

Solution: if your teacher is awful, there is no way around it. Switch teachers. 

2. You view yourself negatively 

This might sound cliche, but it’s true! 

If you see yourself as someone who cannot speak English fluently, that is a self-defeating thought that will eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

We all have inner critics in our heads. This voice can be helpful at times and keep us focused towards our goals, such as by reminding us that it’s not wise to skip a study session. 

This voice, however, can frequently be more damaging than helpful, especially when it becomes excessively negative. This is known as negative self-talk. 

Solution: identify your negative beliefs/self-talk and switch it to a positive self-talk. We understand that it can be very difficult to do so, as it is quite an extreme change. You can try a gentler approach by turning your negative self-talk towards neutral self-talk. 

For example, if you catch yourself thinking “I suck at English. Achieving 6.5 on IELTS is impossible for me!” you can try to shift it to “As an intermediate English learner, I understand that achieving my IELTS target will take effort and time, and I will try my hardest to achieve it.” 

Alternatively, you can try giving your inner negative critic a name. For example, I call mine Debbie cause she’s a downer (Debbie Downer is a common phrase in English, as is Negative Nancy). So, when I catch my brain starts having negative self-talk, I just say “Oh My God Debbie, shut up!” 

3. You haven’t identified your why 

Surely, you decided to start learning English for a reason, right?

And if you are desperate enough to read this article, I bet that your reason is not because “well, all of my friends are learning English so I guess I have to” or other half-baked reasons like that. 

A lot of the time, people lose motivation because they forget their why along the way. 

After all, it’s reasonable that if you are doing something without a clear reason or objective, you’d eventually get bored. 

Solution: explicitly define your why. It doesn’t mean that you have to meditate in the jungle until you get some divine messages telling you why you have to learn English. Just list everything that prompts you to learn English. 

Physically write it down on a piece of paper. Your reason doesn’t even have to be all serious stuff. For example, if you want to improve your English for a better career or to get a scholarship, of course that’s an admirable reason and you should write it down. However, if you also learn English, for example, so you can watch Netflix without subtitles, that’s also a valid reason. Write it down too! 

So, list everything! When you get demotivated again, you can refer to these reasons to keep you going. 

4. Your goal is unrealistic 

Suppose you have an elementary understanding of English and you are not used to speaking in English at all. You want to start learning English, and you want to be fluent and able to write fantastic essays within a month. 

That might be somewhat possible if you dedicate every waking hour to learn English. But is it realistic and sustainable? No. 

Setting unrealistically high targets and failing to meet them will make you want to quit pretty quickly. Set attainable goals and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing numerous small goals — they will quickly add up.

Solution: set a SMART goal. It stands for:

S – Specific: What is the goal? What exactly do you want to achieve?

M – Measurable: How will you measure your progress? How will you know when you have achieved your goal? 

A – Attainable: Is it realistic? Is it genuinely possible to achieve your goal with your current resources?

R – Relevant: Why is this goal important to you? How would your life be better if you achieve this goal?

T – Time-bound: When will you achieve the goal you’ve set? 

For example, you can set the following goal: 

I want to improve my vocabulary to better understand what I am reading. In the next 30 days, I will try to learn five new words every day. Whenever I come across a word that I don’t understand, I will look up its definition and then use it in a sentence to understand its meaning and to really memorise the new words. 

Specific: improve vocabulary by learning five words daily 

Measurable: you can measure your daily progress (have you done 5 words today?) 

Attainable: five words a day sound realistic and attainable 

Relevant: the goal is consistent with your objective to expand your vocabulary and have better reading comprehension 

Time-bound: Your goal is to do this for 30 days. By day 30, you should have already learned 150 new words. 

5. You don’t have a conducive learning environment 

Your surroundings can make or break your learning efforts! 

By surrounding, we mean both the people that you surround yourself with as well as your physical surroundings. 

If you surround yourself with negative people who don’t support your learning, and perhaps say something like “What are you learning English for? It’s useless!” or “Don’t be too ambitious!” Eventually you’ll start to internalise their thoughts and lose your motivation and discipline. 

You should also make your physical learning space comfortable and conducive. This looks different to everyone. For some people, it might look like an empty space with minimum clutter and no noise, while for others a background noise from a TV might be preferred. Some also like to listen to music while studying. 

Don’t worry if your conducive learning environment does not look like what a typical conducive learning environment looks like. Just do whatever makes you comfortable and supports your learning the best! 

Solution: surround yourself with positive people who support your learning and create a comfortable physical space to learn. 

6. You rely on motivation 

The cold hard truth is, we can’t simply rely on motivation. 

Think about it. No one’s motivated all the time, right?

Even if it’s something you enjoy, for example, playing games, there are still moments when you simply feel like you need to take a bit of a break. Even if you genuinely enjoy the game, at times it might feel boring or repetitive, right?

That’s about playing games! Now, imagine something that requires more effort, like learning English. It’s only natural that you’d feel demotivated eventually. 

Of course, all the tips I mentioned above will help you overcome this feeling. But, I’d say the most reliable tip is this one: don’t rely on motivation! 

Motivation wanes. It’s not stable. Sometimes it’s very high, other times it’s almost nonexistent. 

Habit and self-discipline is much more sustainable in ensuring continuous learning! 

Solution: create learning habits and stick to them! Of course, don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t try to start too many new habits at once! Start with one small habit and try your hardest to stick to it for a few weeks. Once that particular habit has become easier to do and takes less effort, you can try adding new ones gradually. 

Summary 

There are a variety of reasons why you might feel demotivated when learning English. It’s a normal part of life. Not everyone is motivated all the time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lazy. So, don’t beat yourself up for it. Do the tips above and we believe you will see substantial improvement in your study habits.

Next steps 

Do you want to speak English with confidence?

Most people lack confidence when they speak English. They are afraid to make mistakes and are embarrassed to speak in front of others. 

This is because they have been taught English the wrong way!

Most English courses waste your time and money on useless exercises that don’t bring results. Even worse, they teach you bad habits that are very difficult to unlearn. 

As a result, you become confused and lack confidence. This is wrong!

At IELC, we teach English the right way

Our goal is to get you speaking in English with fluency and confidence as fast as possible. We want to give you the skills you need to fulfil your potential!

Our experienced teachers will guide you along every step of the learning process to ensure that you are not wasting your time, money, and energy on useless language exercises & wrong methods.

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Talk to our team today to get your FREE consultation and take your first step towards success.

Sincerely,

Anthony McCormick,

IELC Managing Director