At the beginning of each year, like many others, I like to create a list of things I want to start doing. For 2017, the number one thing on my list is to build healthy habits, for example: reading more for fun, drinking more water, and learning a new language. A month has gone by and I have been checking all the things on my list for the entire month. I want to write about the most challenging thing on my list: learning a new language.
First a little about me: I am Latin American and my first language is Spanish. I started to learn English when I was 5 and have gone to an English speaking school ever since. For this reason I consider both English and Spanish my first languages. However, I have always dreamed of learning Italian. I have taken some courses before, enjoy watching Italian films and listening to Italian music. My Italian skills are elementary, but this year I decided to grow this skill and turn it into a habit.
I am a strong believer that learning a language is all about motivation. I was motivated to learn English when I moved from a Spanish speaking country to an English speaking country. Motivation can be a constant struggle, and often learning a language can be frustrating because it takes SO much effort to become fluent. This is why, I changed this perspective and chose to focus on the habit itself. I no longer care if I become fluent in a year, two years, three years or ten. My goal is to start and not stop practicing Italian consistently.
For the past month, I have been using the Duolingo app to practice and test out this new habit. Duolingo is a fantastic learning tool which entertains me as much as any other game app on my phone. I like to think of the app as a game that needs to be won and finished rather than a textbook that needs to be finished.
Motivation is a mixture of the goals you make and the habits you plan and form in order to achieve them. Establishing healthy habits is not only a self-investment but also a great way to create momentum that will push you forward. Once I noticed that sometimes we tend to overestimate what we can do in one day, but underestimate what we can do in one year, I was able to start with my tiny habits and hopefully, I will be able to maintain them.