Language Challenge 180: Week 13 Check-In

by Corey · 19 comments

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Pleasure Seeking?

How were your dopamine levels this week? If you aren’t sure what I am talking about, then check out the Week 13 video to find out. It is an essential element in becoming multilingual!

Finding pleasure in language learning is what Language Challenge 180 is all about. Each week we provide you with tips, suggestions, activities, and more in the hopes that you will be inspired by what you read. We hope you will be able to find something that makes language learning all the more enjoyable for you and/or your children.

Stop Waiting Around!

What many don’t realize is that waiting to feel inspired is often a very bad idea. Language learning is something that you have to jump into day after day with the expectation that you will find ways to become (and stay) inspired. It is like what my children’s violin and piano teacher always tells my children about practicing their instruments: “Even I don’t like the thought of practicing but if I can get to the point of playing those first few notes, then it isn’t so bad and sometimes I end up really enjoying practicing.”

Here is why you shouldn’t wait around for inspiration: 

  • Control: If you are waiting around to feel inspired, then you are giving up control of your language learning to something that is completely unknown and unpredictable. This makes us feel helpless to change things.
  • Murphy’s Law: The more you wait to feel inspired, the less it seems to come. Don’t give Murphy’s Law a chance to sabotage your efforts.
  • Routine: If you only work on language learning when you feel inspired, then you will miss out on the joys of daily routine. It can be extremely unnerving to not have any routine for something like language practice!

The solution is to tell yourself that it is a wonderful thing to do and that the dread you may be feeling is actually excitement. Tell yourself over and over again that you are looking forward to when you can work on some vocabulary. Imagine yourself walking along the streets of a city where your target language is spoken. Maybe you are dressed elegantly as you stroll. You chat with the passersby and say hello to a neighbor.

You don’t think you can trick your mind into thinking that language learning is the best thing in the world? Give it a try this weekend and see. Whenever you feel like making an excuse for not opening that book or watching that video, tell yourself, “I can’t wait to open that book! I can’t wait to watch that video! What I am feeling right now is excitement and anticipation for when I get to work on my language(s)!”

The key is to make yourself inspired to learn the language through things that bring you pleasure. Get those dopamine levels rising and become the multilingual you have always wanted to become!

What About the Kids?

Everything written above applies to our children as well. In fact, it applies even more to them because they are often not able to rationally think through the benefits of their language learning as we are.

It is important that you help your children link language learning with pleasure. Please don’t use bribes or sweets to do this. The short-term gains aren’t worth it. Having an hour-long tea party with peppermint tea and biscuits while chatting away in the target language is wonderful! But telling your children that they will get a sugary treat if they speak your language is not the same.

If your children are resisting the workbooks, then put them aside (the workbooks, not your children) and think about the long-term goal: Helping your children fall in love with the target language.

You do this by making the target language irresistible to your children. First and foremost, you read to them! Read them one book after another in the target language that is appropriate for their language level. Give them enjoyable, quality examples of the target language so that they will be inspired by it.

You also watch age-appropriate films with them that are inspiring and fun (forget the crappy children’s films that are full of bratty kids and poor role models) and then talk about the film afterwards. Watch films dubbed into the target language if necessary (it is better than nothing!).

Just Do It!

My children complained the other day about me reading books to them in German (it was an excuse to convince me to read a specific book from the library in English). But instead of caving into their request, I picked out a fun Astrid Lindgren book and started reading it while we had breakfast and then again at afternoon tea. They loved it! They begged for more!

I didn’t fight with them or explain endlessly why they should keep up their German skills. I simply started reading. It was simple, painless and full of pleasure for all of us. I even think I felt our dopamine levels rising!

Another time I pulled out all of the German books that I would enjoy reading out loud to my children (we have a lot of books that I would not enjoy reading since they don’t interest me) and we went through each one to give it a rating of preference. The book that came out at the top was read first. In this way, I gave my children the option of choosing the book, rather than me making the decision for them.

Note that I only pulled out books that I wanted to read out loud. What is the point of helping our children find pleasure in language learning when we aren’t feeling enjoyment in it?

You do not have to read books out loud to your children that you don’t want to. Just tell your children that it isn’t enjoyable for you to read that book and then help them find another book that everyone will enjoy. Sure, sometimes we bite the bullet and read something that we don’t like, but don’t do it all of the time. Your children will notice the difference!

No Pain, No Gain?

Forget that ridiculous saying about “no pain, no gain” when it comes to language learning. Gain will come when you/your children are ready, willing and able. We do not learn anything well when we are experiencing pain while doing it. And we certainly won’t retain what we are learning.

What if you are only feeling pain? Trick your mind into loving the gain of language acquisition. Do things that bring you enjoyment like watching a movie that you know and love but this time in the target language (I watched the film Amelie the other day in French without subtitles, now that was fun!). Read a fashion/news/technology magazine online without worrying about understanding a thing. Just pronouncing the words will make you feel oh-so sophisticated!

Tap into that dopamine store you have and get into the groove. It will make all of the difference!

Today’s Check-In Activity

  • Check-In Activity: In the comment section below, share what brings you and/or your children the most pleasure in life. This does NOT have to do with language learning specifically (but nothing x-rated please!).
    Maybe you enjoy sitting on the sofa in the evening reading mystery novels? Perhaps your children enjoy watching YouTube videos? Or maybe for you it is eating chocolate cake on Sunday afternoons with a fresh cup of coffee?
  • Giveaway: After you leave a comment below, head over to the current giveaway and enter! Once you check in, you can enter! It is another fantastic giveaway prize!


Don’t forget to visit the Multilingual Living Forum to ask a question, start a discussion or give someone else some support. You do NOT have to log in to post there. We encourage you to check out the Language Challenge 180 section as well as the other sections. And come check us out at Pinterest! We’d love to share with you there!

Have you checked on your target language pages lately? Add comments for new products/tips/advice/conversations that you have on your mind!

Keep an eye out for your next email which will arrive on Monday! Keep up the fantastic work!

1 Katina June 2, 2012 at 1:31 am

My children and I love to listen to music and dancing. My mother loved music and I have that same pleasure when I dance and sing with my children.

2 Amanda Kendle June 2, 2012 at 4:19 am

My 2-year-old and I get pleasure out of lots of simple things but probably one of our favourites is going to the park. My son loves the swing the best (and we practice counting in German as he swings – his favourite number is neun/9!)

3 Mary Kay June 2, 2012 at 4:24 am

Lately for us as well, it’s been going to the park. I found a group of women with small children who all come from West Africa, and some from Mali, and we all talk and laugh and Bambara and our children play together. It reminds of my old Peace Corps days, except that I am old, and married, and have a child, and live in the US, but still, it is possible to find that Peace Corps community spirit in Bambara in this section of the Bronx. I love that she gets to watch me interact in Bambara regularly now, and while she is still not speaking, I have a feeling she is starting to understand. ni ala soona.

4 Gale June 2, 2012 at 5:21 am

For me, being out in the garden…out in nature, brings a lot of pleasure. That and honestly playing and working on the internet (blogging, researching, etc.)

For my kids, probably playing with legos, being silly, and they also love computer games.

5 Alex June 2, 2012 at 8:25 am

Wonderful article! I really enjoy reading books for kids eight years younger then me in German, watching “Meine Schwester Charlie” episodes, and writing biographies in German. It’s really fun when I have a conversation with my little sister. We are trying to see who is going to finish the Rosetta Stone programs first!

6 cindy June 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

We love cuddling up in a chair, reading books together, dancing and singing, and playing at the park. I’m sure I can works some language learning into any and all of those!

7 Donna June 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I love to read, learn new things, and have coffee with friends. My younger daughters both love to read, sing, play the piano, and hang with friends.

8 Sharon June 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Going on hikes and playing at the beach! Love the outdoors.

9 Karolena June 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I love just laying down with a good book and a snack, especially if I’ve just finished some chores and I know I have time to relax a little.

10 Emma June 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

We love to snuggle up and read… and also to jump around and sing!

11 Murray June 4, 2012 at 4:38 am

Playing and relaxing in the backyard.

12 Terra June 4, 2012 at 4:53 am

My son is most drawn to sports and movement. Reading, family photography and creating something bring me the most pleasure.

13 Becky Smith June 4, 2012 at 5:25 am

My oldest son loves to read. I would like him to exercise more, though, so we started playing a game they enjoy called “cops and robbers.” The kids really enjoy that, and we try to play it together as a family. They really like it when we play games together as a family–even board games. I have tried to incorporate these fun activities into their Russian learning, but since I’m not a native speaker, I have to teach other adults first how to play the game and then instruct them to play the game with my children.

My oldest son learned Russian by counting. He loves numbers, and his first language tutor picked up on this. They started adding everything in the house–the legs of people, the eyes, etc. She was an amazing teacher!! That is the point, isn’t it? To find something the child enjoys and then indulge in it in another language.

14 MamaInArabic June 4, 2012 at 6:15 am

Being outside brings all of us great joy. But I think my daughter’s greatest pleasure is being silly with her father (and sometimes me). Those squeals and giggles of happiness are priceless and fill the house with fun and lightheartedness.

15 Wendy June 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

My daughters love to perform shows for me where they dress up and dance. We all enjoy going to the library and getting books to read. My daughters like reading in English, but will only read a simple book in Spanish if I’ve been able to translate it ahead of time and can explain it to them.

16 Amy Van Vranken June 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

The thing we probably enjoy most collectively is our Sunday afternoon family activity. We take turns choosing what it is, whether it’s going to get frozen yogurt or playing at a park, or playing cards. The only rule is that it has to cost less than $20 for the whole family to do!

17 Adina B June 5, 2012 at 5:02 am

My daughter loves listening to music – she’s learned so much English and French by listening/watching to songs on youtube, also listening to audio CDs! We’re also book lovers, reading lots of books in En and Fr.

18 Mikayla June 5, 2012 at 7:31 am


19 Tracey June 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I enjoy anything we do as a family – listening to music and dancing or watching movies. Walking and playing with my kids and in my family. Having a celebration, going to the park, being with friends.

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