Today I’m answering a question I had after my video “Head vs Heart Motivation” This is a fantastic question and it comes from one of my subscribers Katie. Katie thank you so much for asking. The question was “is it possible to turn extrinsic motivation into intrinsic motivation?

To give you a bit of a backstory Katie is having to learn French at school, she’s not enjoying it at all but she has to keep it up to pass her exams. This was not something I’d ever thought about before and it made me do a lot of thinking. My short answer is yes I think it could be possible to turn extrinsic motivation into intrinsic motivation, because there can be times when we have to learn a language that we’re not passionate about.

Obviously it’s much better if you can learn a language that you are intrinsically passionate about from the beginning, but if you’re not then yes I think it might be possible to turn extrinsic motivation, having to learn for logical reasons such as work or to add a skill to your resume, I think it could be possible to turn it into intrinsic motivation.

So how would I go about it?

Firstly I would look at my hobbies. So for instance I’m interested in golf, so if I had to learn French I would try to find articles on golf in French. Or I would go onto Google and I would look at golf courses in France. I’d look at the vocabulary they were using and try to build my interest for French that way. So I’d look at the vocabulary and the sentence structures and then dissect them. And you can do this whatever your interests are, so if you’re interested in cooking you can find french recipes, or if you’re interested in a particular point in history you could find articles on it in French. For beginners this might seem difficult, but you can take the article first word for word, and then sentence for sentence and dissect it that way. So although you might not be interested in the language you will be interested in the topic and that would be what would drive you to learn, and to want to be around the language.

Secondly, which I think is even more powerful, I would try to build up a connection with somebody whom you can communicate with in your target language. I think the biggest and most powerful reason for wanting to learn a language is to use it to connect with people. When finding someone to speak with make sure you enjoy speaking to them. A good indicator of this is if you both spoke the same language would you still want to chat to that person? If the answer is yes then you’ve found the right person. Websites like are great for finding language partners or community tutors. Even some less formal teachers will happily let you practice conservation with them. I would say to veer away from traditional teachers as they are likely to be very grammar focused, and that’s not going to help you when you are trying to develop your passion for a language.

I did make a video on how to find people to practice speaking with, it’s called “Speaking to Actual People When Learning a Language” and you can find it on my Youtube channel. Here is the link

And thirdly it’s very easy to get stuck in your own little bubble. I’ve been very guilty of this recently with my Afrikaans. It’s easy to stay stuck at your desk with your books and CDs, just doing listening, writing and reading and not really use the language. And that’s a really quick way to get yourself bored and demotivated because the magic of language happens when you actually use it. Nothing feels better than speaking to somebody and thinking “Holy cow I’m actually speaking this language!” You need that spark of excitement because that’s what’s going to help to keep you motivated.

So to recap.

1)Think about what your hobbies and interests are and try to find material on them in your target language.

2)Find somebody who you can connect with and talk to. If they share your same interests as well then that’s even more powerful.

3)Use the language. This goes hand in hand with number two, finding someone to talk to. Don’t stay shut away use the language whether it be verbally talking to somebody, or with the internet you can find Facebook groups, Instagrammers, or YouTubers in your target language and interact with them online. But keep in mind that speaking face to face, or over Skype is going to be much better than writing.

If anybody else has any other ideas then please share them and Katie let me know what your experiences were and thank you again for the question.

If anybody else has any more questions then please feel free to ask. If this has been helpful then please give it a like and feel free to share it so that we can all learn from each other.

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