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Reasons why we give up and how to avoid this

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or the wrong way in the end doesn't really lead anywhere. That's exactly why so many people give up when the going gets tough and whether you like it or not you will come across obstacles with any challenging objective and, more specifically here, when learning English.

Learning a foreign language is hard ( or any new skill for that matter) and that certainly applies to English language as well. Language is a fast-developing growing organism and even if we didn't take that into account, it's extremely complex with so many intricacies that go beyond the four pillars of language: reading,writing listening and speaking.

Below I've listed in my opinion the main but of course not all of the usual reasons why people give up before achieving their objectives as to learning a foreign language. As it’s been said, a well stated problem is a problem half-solved.

Unmanageable goals

If you set unrealistic goals or set an unrealistic time frame for achieving your goals, it's almost 100% certain that sooner or later you're going to give up.

So, be realistic and be flexible to adjust your goals – better a more manageable albeit less ambitious goal, than no goal at all. Even better, set one ambitious long term goal and then break it down into medium and more manageable short-term goals. If you're not sure how to approach this, there are plenty of materials on goal setting available both off and online.

Not focusing on the result

As simple as it may sound, you shouldn't forget why you started learning in the first place. Let's face it: without motivation there can be no continuous progress, as motivation is what pushes us to proceed until the end no matter what obstacles come our way and to overcome them rater than stop the learning process altogether.

Imagine walking towards your goal on a real physical road – you're stumbling over stones, you knees are bleeding, you're out of breath; so unless you remember why and where you are going in the first place, you're very likely to turn around and go home. In more abstract sense of stones being difficulties and obstacles, the journey of learning English is the same – remember why you started travelling and where it is that you want to arrive and most importantly why.

Getting too obsessed with the result:

Being too result obsessed and forgetting to enjoy the process or to be flexible and adapting as and when required isn't going to lead to long-lasting results, as you'd be likely to get demotivated pretty quickly. Whilst it's always good to keep the final objective in mind, I'll repeat again that difficulties are inevitable, but if you see them as obstacles to getting the results as soon as possible, rather than as learning opportunities and a way to discover something new and exciting, you're likely to end up giving up.

Enjoy the process, the ups and downs of the learning journey and I promise that your learning experience will be that much more pleasant. And should you get something wrong or if something doesn't go as planned, you'll be less likely to view it as a failure to achieve the result, but rather see it as a lesson learnt hence making the experience much more positive, meaning you'll be a lot less likely to give up.


Not being able to accept your weaknesses in turn means you will fail to identify the gaps in your knowledge, which will make it really hard if not impossible to make any progress whatsoever as only by realising our weaknesses can we work on them. You need to be realistic about where you stand in order to assess accurately your starting position, as without it it's not exactly possible to begin your journey in the direct direction or in the right way, which again sooner or later will lead to you giving up. Equally, getting too upset about your mistakes and being too hard on yourself will not get your anywhere either. Balance is key.

Comparing yourself to others

Never ever compare yourself to others whether it is to feel better about your progress because you're a faster learner than others or to feel down about being a slower learner. A healthy amount of competition that pushes you never hurt anyone but don't let it stop you from pushing yourself even harder if you're already ahead of those you're comparing yourself to or get disheartened by your seemingly slower progress. Just remember that everyone learns at a different pace plus everyone has different strengths – some are naturally better at speaking, others better understand the complex intricacies of grammar rules etc. An important quote comes to mind:

"You shouldn't compare yourself to others but strive to be a better version of yourself that you were yesterday" – hence continuous effort is key.

By no means the above list is exhaustive, yet these are the key reasons in my opinion why students give up learning languages. Do you agree or perhaps have a different viewpoint? Feel free to share your thoughts as everyone's experiences are different.

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