Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: In this final Inner Circle, we’re talking about...
Peter: What’s your REAL reason for learning a language?
Chigusa: And you’ll learn..
Peter: One: Are Your Reasons External or Internal? Or maybe both? And Two: How to Keep Going When Your Reasons Change
Chigusa: All so you can master your target language and reach your goals!
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome back to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned about the power of specificity...
Chigusa: …and the can-do conversation checklist…
Peter: ...so you can master conversations and speak more of your target language.
Chigusa: And now... here we are, Peter. It’s the end of the year—final inner circle episode. You set a goal of 20 minutes.
Peter: The end of the year. What a year it has been, Chigusa.
Chigusa: Yeah… So, what about your goal? Did you hit it?
Peter: Well… Chigusa…
Chigusa: Yes?
Peter: ...I did reach my goal of 20 minutes. But this was lower than my original goal of 30 minutes. So are you going to give that to me?
Chigusa: Because it’s been a tough year, I’d say yes. I'm going to be kind. So, how has it been with Hebrew this year, Peter?
Peter: Well, pandemic aside and hope everyone is staying safe and wishing you the best, Hebrew has been a really eye-opening language for me.
Chigusa: What do you mean?
Peter: Well, you know how we often talk about reasons for learning a language - these anchor points?
Chigusa: Yeah…?
Peter: Well, each year I’ve been doing this, I noticed more and more … and I noticed it quite clearly with Hebrew... How your reason for learning tends to change over time.
Chigusa: As in... you start learning for one reason… like travel….and you keep with the language for a completely different reason?
Peter: Exactly. But when that happens… a lot of learners tend to quit right then and there… when their main motivation for learning changes, they tend to quit.
Chigusa: So how do you keep going if your original reason isn’t working anymore?
Peter: That’s a great question and probably useful not just for language learning but also in life. And that’s the topic of this Inner Circle.
Chigusa: What’s your REAL reason for learning a language?
Peter: Okay, let’s jump into part 1.
Chigusa: Part 1: Are Your Reasons External or Internal?
Peter: So, Chigusa, What’s your most recent goal? For example, I’m always on time for our recording sessions, and you’re usually a little bit late.
Chigusa: Excuse me, what did I hear?
Peter: What’s a recent goal of yours? Maybe be on time? I don’t want to push anything but...
Chigusa My recent goal… I’ve been saying this every year, but… lose two more kilos?
Peter: And why did you set that goal?
Chigusa: I think I would be healthier if I lose two more kilograms.
Peter: So that’s a health-centric reason. And it's a good goal. So you’ve set that goal, and you’re striving to reach that goal. So as you know… I started my Hebrew learning because my best friend speaks it. So this was a personal goal. If you take a look back, I started learning Chinese because my wife is Chinese. Japanese because I wanted to get a job, and then I moved to Japan, and that was my main reason for studying Japanese.
Chigusa: Right. Peter, all of those sound like good, strong reasons to learn.
Peter: They are. But the reason I asked you the questions… the reasons that you and I mentioned, they’re kind of the reasons we start in the first place. And in my case, I’m learning to speak with my friend. I’m learning because my wife is Chinese. I’m learning because I’m going to Japan. They all have something in common. They’re external.
Chigusa: What do you mean by external?
Peter: It’s always about getting some outside reward or benefit. Like a friendship, a personal relationship, travel, living in the country - day to day getting by, or you could say perhaps you’re learning and you’re not immersed in the country, so maybe you want to watch a movie in the target language. These are all reasons that have to do with something outside of yourself.
Chigusa: Ah that’s true.
Peter: But there’s also a subset of people that learn languages… for self-growth, self-improvement. They simply want to better themselves. And those people, their reasons are internal.
Chigusa: So, internal and external.
Peter: Exactly.
Chigusa: Peter, would you say one is better than the other? Like, is internal better than external?
Peter: I want to go back to my main point… is why you start in the first place. And I think many people start something because they want some reward externally. Meaning they want to go to the place. It’s a personal relationship. They’re doing it for someone else. Then we have a subset of people who are doing it for themselves. But I really want you to remember about this lesson… I think that it’s constantly changing. I think you need to understand there are many reasons - external and internal - why you should keep studying. And many people, when you have that starting reason, and it doesn’t work out, they quit. So, studies say internal is better in the long run. But, both have their strengths and weaknesses. Doing something for yourself is probably more compelling. So usually, when we are first interested in something, it’s because of external reasons… the shiny benefits.
Chigusa: Like, you want to be able to travel, impress people, or form relationships.
Peter: Exactly. I always had this image - one of my dreams was always to be somewhere where I was eavesdropping on a conversation in another language, and I could jump in. Or in the movies, there’s always that hero who can speak the language, and when they’re talking bad about that hero, he always answers in that language. It’s such a powerful moment, like “whoa.” It’s just I’m not physically, but I’m also mentally or intellectually their peer - or a challenge for them. But external reasons are exciting. They’re why most - not all of us - but most start learning languages. But the problem with external reasons is, they may not last too long.
Chigusa: Yeah… If you want a language for travel..., but then the pandemic comes along, and you can’t travel. Or you learn because your partner speaks a language… and then you guys break up.
Peter: Exactly, Chigusa. And when that happens, most people give up on their goals because the priority drops. When that happens, when their main reason changes.
Chigusa: Okay, so to recap, external reasons are things like travel and relationships. And they get us interested in learning a language.
Peter: And internal reasons have more to do with yourself. You want to improve yourself.
Chigusa: And reasons for learning change all the time.
Peter: Your initial reason for wanting to learn may not be the same as why you continue to learn. In my case, my friends didn’t want to speak Hebrew with me. It just didn’t fit our dynamic. I mean, we would laugh over a few slang words, but we were so embedded in English that we could never turn that corner. So, I had to change my reason for learning Hebrew.
Chigusa: So, what did you do? And how do you keep going?
Peter: Let’s get into the 2nd part.
Chigusa: Part 2: How to Keep Going When Your Reasons Change.
Peter: Listeners, remember, your reason for starting a language isn’t often the reason why you continue learning…
Chigusa: And it’s natural for your reasons to change.
Peter: And Chigusa, I think you might agree with me here. Much like anything that you continue for a long time, if you really reflect, the reason you start is not the reason you continue.
Chigusa: That makes total sense.
Peter: So, how do you keep going?
Chigusa: If your current motivator isn’t working…
Peter: Make it about yourself. And I’m going to repeat that again. Make that about yourself. Come up with an internal reason.
Chigusa: External reasons can only last so long.
Peter: Even reasons like “you want to live in that country, so you want to learn the language”...aren’t enough.
Chigusa: That’s very true. So what about you, Peter? How did you keep up with Hebrew?
Peter: Well, I kind of knew in my first month that my two friends - again, I want to put this delicately - didn’t want to help me.
Chigusa: Why not? That’s mean.
Peter: I wouldn’t tell them you said that. Well, our relationship is fixed. It wasn’t built on language learning; it was built on relaxing and just enjoying each other's company. So, when I kind of introduced this element of language learning to it, it kind of slowed the natural flow of things.
Chigusa: Ah, yeah. I think it’s similar if you’re in a relationship and want to learn your partner’s language.
Peter: Exactly. I wanted to learn Chinese because my wife is Chinese… but it’s the same. I can’t really make her teach me. Actually, when we first met, we spoke in Japanese. But in many social situations, I found that we were speaking English with other people. We gravitated more towards English, and then we spoke a mix of Japanese and English at home. So, I had to learn myself so that I could learn her language. With Hebrew, Chigusa, I had to give myself another reason to keep going. I went back to myself. I want to be the type of person who achieves their goals. I want to be better than before. So, I kept going for self-improvement. So I changed my reason. You know, one other thing that happened was, I was hoping to go to Israel this year. It’s a very powerful motivator - travel - right? But that was off the table. So I had to look and make it about myself. But, you know what’s really hard with a language? You don’t see results fast.
Chigusa: Yeah, with the gym, in one or two weeks, you can start seeing some subtle changes.
Peter: But with language, it takes a lot longer. There are tests you can do to monitor your progress, but language is so encompassing, and most people focus on the speaking aspect. So it takes quite some time before you can get to that ability where you can speak confidently. That ability to speak confidently takes time...however once you get to a certain point where you’re actually able to do it - we call it the inflection point, then you can really see the rewards of all of those hours you put in - learning to read, write, speak, listen, learning about the culture, learning the vocabulary. It takes a lot of time. Think about a conversation. How many tens or hundreds of hours go into producing a 10-minute conversation with someone in a foreign language. Oh boy, I'm making this seem really hard.
Chigusa: But I see, I see what you mean by an inflection point.
Peter: An inflection point is like a turning point. You’re putting in all this time and effort and slowly building. It’s not like the gym, where each week you can see your arms getting bigger. It’s growing behind the scenes, and then one day, When one day, you realize you can speak the language.
Chigusa: Ah, I see.
Peter: But getting to these points - it takes a lot of time. So one of the key things that you can do along the way from building towards this is… you can try to find some small wins along the way. Try to surround yourself with people who speak the language. One tactic I use is going to restaurants where I can find some native speakers. And even saying one or two words to them, really helps and it shows you have an interest in not just the cuisine but the language and then the culture. And eventually, you can build towards having a conversation, and sometimes the people when you attempt just a little bit, they can say something like, “wow, where’d you learn to speak like that.”
Chigusa: That must be so good to hear.
Peter: It really is because getting feedback like that from a native speaker is really powerful. And this kind of validation helps keep you going…. When you’re learning for yourself.
Chigusa: So, Peter, internal reasons work better in the long run, right?
Peter: They do.
Chigusa: But don’t you think they’re harder to do? Because there’s less of that carrot-on-a-stick reward.
Peter: Chigusa, I think I just mentioned that I go to a restaurant to try and speak the language for external validation. So even though I’m doing it for myself, I still need someone to give me some type of feedback .. and that’s the point: you can combine the two. You add a reward, as we mention in another episode. But there are powerful benefits you get… if you can do this for yourself. So you can do both, but doing it for yourself...if you think of that as the fallback plan, then when your external reason doesn’t work out, then you can always fall back on that internal plan - doing it for yourself. For example, you learn how to motivate yourself, how to stick with goals, set routines, and you develop practice…. And this self-growth. And this is not just good for language learning but for everything.
Chigusa: You learn how to keep going when your initial reason isn’t useful anymore
Peter: Exactly. A lot of these benefits spill over into other areas of life. So, you can achieve other goals you set.
Chigusa: So, listeners, to recap… if your initial reason isn’t working anymore…
Peter: ...and it’s usually an external reason...that changes quicker than internal, of course, that’s not always the case, but usually external changes faster. When that happens, pick an internal reason. Do it for yourself.
Chigusa: It’ll help you keep on going.
Peter: And the best part is, when you do things for yourself, and you grow, it’s almost like a gravitational pull. People will take an interest in what you’re doing. So, listeners, if you started learning for one reason...and you ended up continuing for another….
Chigusa: Let us know what they were.
Peter: If you continued on for one reason, let us know also. And if you use a mix of both…
Chigusa: Let us know what they are.
Peter: Send us an email at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Chigusa: So, Peter, what about next year? What language will you be learning?
Peter: Russian!
Chigusa: Russian! Alright, we’ll see in the new year! Listeners, thank you so much for being part of the Inner Circle..
Peter: We hope you’ve taken action on the tips you’ve picked up in these lessons…
Chigusa: ...because when you take action, you start seeing results…
Peter: ...and you start reaching your language goals. So, thank you again for coming along with us, and we’ll see you next year. If you have an update on your language learning journey, please send it to us.


Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson!
Peter: Bye. Everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening!