Nowadays, with all the new techs and smartphones, self-study is more common. You play with your devices and install various apps. Interactions are still important, but sometimes it is not that easy to find someone who can practice when you are have time. Self study is more convenient, affordable (free) and it is on the rise. People usually think that self study is boring, so here are some tips how you can make it engaging and stay motivated.
1. Concentrate on short term achievements
Big or general goals e.g. “I want to be fluent in 3 months” might result in disappointment and loss of motivation. On the other hand, setting small goals results in seeing progress more often and that will drive you to continue. At the beginning of your self-study session, set a goal for the study time. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, or learn in that day? For example, you can say that today you will learn ten new words or practice one new sentence pattern.
If you have big portions of study load, break it into smaller parts. To do this, you should know what you can achieve during the study session. For example, if you can study only for 30 minutes, don’t set your goal to learning a lot of new words. You can learn only 5 words and practice them thoroughly.
2. Eliminate distractions
Don’t study in a room with television or other things or people, who may distract you from studying. Use a quiet room and study during times no one will bother you. For example in the morning or in the evening. If you procrastinate a lot, eliminate all sources like video games, books, food etc.
3. Do some physical activity
If you feel like you can’t concentrate at all, go out for a walk. A 20-minute walk will give you more energy and you will feel refreshed. If you aren’t a walk-person, do some sit-ups or clean the room. Then, with refreshed mind, you will better absorb all the new information.
4. Use interactive materials
It is important to choose learning materials and tools that will help you enjoy self-study. To better select the right ones, you should know what is your intelligence type. I will give you an example of what works for me. To learn new stuff, I use online courses, or short videos and take notes. To practice or revise what I already learned, I like creating infographics or flashcards. Another useful tool are games. You can check some PowerPoint games and quizzes, or create your own.
5. Watch original movies with subtitles
When learning a new language, it is important to stay in contact with it. If you like watching movies, watch it in original language with subtitles. You will soon understand some sentence patterns, learn slang words, and eventually widen your vocabulary. I will talk more about what jdramas are good for learning Japanese in the next blog. So, stay tuned.
6. Create mnemonics
When learning Japanese, you might struggle with kanji. For some people, learning kanji is like memorizing a phone book. Well, to learn the characters once and for all, try mnemonics. You can create your own, or try the Kanji look and learn book. It contains an image and context for each kanji to help you memorize it.
7. Give yourself a reward
Do you need extra motivation to start studying? Make an agreement with yourself that after you finish the next lesson, you will give yourself a reward. It can be something you like, e.g. a piece of chocolate, next episode of your favorite series etc. If you know that there is a reward waiting for you, studying will be more easier.
Some people might break promises they make with themselves. So, if you belong to this group, make your promise public. Write it on social networks, or tell your friends. In addition, you can agree on some kind of penalty for breaking your promise. For example, tell your friends that if you don’t achieve your goal, you will invite them to dinner.
8. Have a break
It is important to have fun and enjoy studying. Otherwise, you won’t be concentrated and you might be demotivated very soon. Nobody wants to do activities that aren’t engaging. So, it is essential to have a regular break every 20 minutes to stay focused. If you feel like it, don’t be afraid to take even longer breaks e.g. a week, if you are really demotivated. Longer break will help you clear your mind, relax and find new strength and motivation to continue with learning.
To sum it up, if you set yourself an achievable goal, use the methods and tools that work for you, break the learning into smaller parts, you will succeed. Ganbatte ne!