Fluent in Motivation: How to Learn a Foreign Language

Coti Zavala
2 min readSep 15, 2020
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

When people I meet find out that I can speak 5 languages they are always utterly shocked and genuinely intrigued in how in the WORLD I managed to do this! Well, learning a new language might be easier than you actually think…

It is a common belief that polyglotes, people who can speak 3 or more languages, are actual masterminds, that they have an innate talent to learn languages and if you do not possess these abilities, you will never get there. WRONG! As said by Lýdia Machová, in her TED Talk “The secrets of learning a new Language”, one of my personal favorite TED Talks, there is no such thing as the “language gene” that people believe in having for learning a new language. It is all about finding the right motivation.

When people ask me how I “managed” to learn 5 languages I tell them “I speak in motivation, not in structure”, what do I mean by this? Learning by the rules of language-learning might not be the best way to get you to learn that new language. When I was 6 years old my family immigrated from Argentina to Brazil in search of a better life. As a little girl, entering 1st grade in a school in Rio de Janeiro, I had a very big motivator to learning Portuguese: making friends. It was either learning Portuguese or being alienated.

It is important to visualize the main motivator that will get you from point A to B, not just simply adding the learning that language because you had nothing else to do. Put meaningful intentions in your actions!

Finding your personalized motivation to learn a language might be the hardest part of the process. Your motivation to learn might be listening to a podcast in a foreign language, might be watching a foreign show that you always wanted to understand, might be having full-on conversations in that language, or might even be understanding the grammar and the rules of the language. The important part is tying up your motivation with your method of learning, if traditional grammar, reading, and writing will not get you (happily) to your end goal, then you will never get there! The key is finding a method that makes each step exciting; like learning a new word, or realizing that today you understand more than you did yesterday. Take active motivated steps towards the result you want!

The main takeaways I would give you are to answer the question why do I want to learn this language? Find your motivation, find a process that motivates you along each step, and most importantly: DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL! I invite you to be fluent in motivation, before you can become fluent in that new language you want to learn!




Coti Zavala

Trying to spread some inspiration and motivation! Student, writer, artist, tutor, friend whatever it is I want to use my experiences to enhance others' lives.