“Deliberately setting aside specific times like ’each Monday and Wednesday at 7 PM I’ll study for an hour’, make for a smooth start and quickly become habitual”, says Dr. Anja Achtziger, professor of Social Psychology and Motivation at the University of Konstanz in Germany. Also, telling those in your social circle about your intentions typically creates both more pressure to commit as well as rewards for perseverance. “Successes should be celebrated as they create motivation for further goals,” the motivation expert says.
By beginning to learn a foreign language in January, one can already take advantage of the spring break to apply basic skills on a holiday abroad. According to the results of a study on “Learning Behavior” among 1774 Babbel users (with native languages English, German, French, Spanish and Italian), to make this work most effectively, it is also important to focus on one’s own interests. 75% of all participants reported choosing courses according to their own individual preferences. “My personal interests create the motivation. The rest mostly comes on its own”, says one Babbel learner.
Only 16% of Babbel users have left their own preferences aside and let themselves be motivated by the requirements of the course. “I find grammar rules boring but I still drill them“, comments a participant who also noted success with his own curriculum.
“People should veer from their learning plan if they’re interested in another theme. You learn best when you’re having fun studying,” says Miriam Plieninger, Babbel course editor.
The right mix of theory and practice brings quick success. 56% of survey participants confirm this and study in various ways. More than half report private study at home, mobile learning with language-learning apps, as well as putting learned concepts into practice as being helpful. “Everyone learns in their own individual way,” comments Professor Juliane House, language education researcher at the University of Hamburg.
Whether it is through practicing words by speaking them out loud, conversations with others, listening to music or singing, or even by repeating vocabulary words via smartphone—a change of scenery makes for variety and brings new experiences and exciting new input to one’s study. The study also found that 24% have trouble putting what they have learned into practice and therefore learn mostly on the computer. Only 17% of respondents pick up everything in theory before taking on their first conversation.
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With the online learning system Babbel (http://www.babbel.com), both beginners and continuing learners can study English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Indonesian, Polish and Turkish. There are tons of interactive courses available on the website. More than 3 million people from over 200 countries have already registered with Babbel, while the iPhone app has passed the 1.4 million download mark. The company behind Babbel, Lesson Nine GmbH, operates out of Berlin, Germany. Founded in August 2007, it now has around 90 fulltime and freelance employees. Since July 2008 Lesson Nine has been funded by Kizoo AG and VC-Fonds Berlin.