How to recover from Language Burnout?
Language Burnout is not a phenomenon that we often talk about, so that if you’re new to the language learning world you probably haven’t heard of it, or think that this doesn’t really concern you.
But it is often closer than you imagine, especially if you’ve had an approach to learning that’s detrimental to your well-being or to your relationship to the language.
Language Burnout is common amongst French learners who:
- Set unreasonable goals in terms of how much time they decide to dedicate to their French study, as well as in terms of the results they will be able to obtain after a too short period of time.
- Push themselves too hard, following the mantra “no pain no gain.” Soon enough French becomes only pain.
- Put too much importance on the result and not enough on the practice.
- Use methods that aren’t adapted to them.
- Aren’t supported by a like-minded community or coach.
Find out more about how these 5 elements affect you and lead you to burnout and what to do instead: Language Burnout – 5 habits you should quit
But maybe it’s too late already.
Maybe you already feel this disconnect from the French language and you feel a lack of energy when you think about your language routine using books and apps.
What you need now is to recover from your burnout so you can pursue your French dreams without feeling overwhelmed by doing too much, or bad about yourself for not doing enough.
Mindfulness has great tools to help you on this path to recovery from language burnout.
Let me share them with you.
Recovering from Language Burnout with Mindfulness
In 6 steps
Step 1: Acknowledge your Burnout
You can’t move past anything if you haven’t first acknowledged its presence.
Observe your reactions when you think about French, when you have a French conversation, or when you are about to do a study session.
Do a quick body scan to help you become aware of the emotions present in your body. Is it a feeling of expansion, relaxation? Or a feeling of tension and stress?
Observe the way you talk about French. Are you excited, or worried? Do you feel joy or pressure and anxiety?
Name your feelings. You might want to journal about them to really create a space where you can be honest with yourself and be aware of what is actually happening.
Bring acceptance to your situation. Accept that this is the way things are today. It doesn’t mean that they will always be this way. Acceptance is the first step towards transformation.
Step 2: Self-compassion – Language Burnout happens
Language Burnout happens to many learners.
It doesn’t mean anything about you.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It means that you wanted to succeed so much that you over-did it.
It means that you didn’t have the right tools to help you learn French in a way that was both sustainable and enjoyable.
So don’t blame yourself.
Instead, bring some self-love and self-compassion to yourself.
Imagine your best friend was suffering from Language Burnout? Or from work burnout? What would you tell them?
Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend.
Step 3: Remember why
Go back to why you started. What made you want to learn French? What was exciting, attractive to you? What was the French dream?
Knowing the deep reason why we are learning a language is key to finding the courage to pursue it, especially after a language burnout.
When I say “deep” reason, I mean that it has to be a reason that goes beyond external wins.
Step 4: Forget about goals
Even if they are S.M.A.R.T, focusing on goals encourages you to think only of that. The outcome. The achievement. The reward.
What if spending time with your French was the reward?
Setting a realistic goal is great, but then you have to forget it. Put it aside. And trust the process. Trust the practice.
So now is not the moment to think about getting your B2/C1 certification.
Now is the moment to reconnect to your love for the language, without pursuing the performance.
It’s like when you’re meditating. If you focus too much on a goal of “getting relaxed” or “clearing your mind”, chances are you will be more stressed and believe that meditation isn’t for you. You can read more about it here: When your French pratice becomes a meditation.
If the fact learning French is associated with developing your well-being, it becomes a treat. Something you get to do.
And the result is inevitable.
Step 5: Bring more Yin to your learning
It’s not as woo-woo as it sounds.
I learned a bit about Taoism when I was living in Vietnam. As a very brief summary, every element of the world can be defined as being Yin or Yang.
Yang is the masculine energy, the action, the logic, the control, the goal.
Yin is the feminine energy, the receptivity, the freedom, the feeling, the being, the presence, the creativity, the intuition.
When Yin and Yang are in perfect harmony, everything is balanced.
A little bit too much Yin, and you’re not making any progress. A little bit too much Yang, and … you’re in burnout.
Yes, it’s over-simplfied. But you get my point.
Bring more Yin to your learning means allow it to just flow.
Be receptive to what French can bring you. Let it transport you. Be present with the language without looking for the performance. Follow your creativity and just.. play!
On her blog, Kerstin Cable says: “Remember that your number one job is not to perform. Your number one job is to keep yourself as happy as healthy as possible, and language learning should fuel this (not the other way round).”
Step 6: Fall back in love with French
I love comparing learning a language with having a romantic relationship.
When you’re disconnected from your partner in a love relationship, you don’t need to spend more time arguing about sex, money, or the kids.
What you need is to fall in love again with that person. How would you do that?
I would spend quality time with them. I would suggest we do the things we love together. I would share my thoughts,my feelings, my dreams, my hopes with that person.
Do the same with French!
On the blog “The Lunar Treehouse”, the writer says “Take care of yourself, and remember that language learning is supposed to be an enriching experience. It is supposed to add value to your life and stimulate growth, not stifle your creativity.”
Take a break from the performance, from the tests, the grammar books, the Duolingo, the Anki.
Unfollow half of the IG accounts that teach you yet another idiomatic expression of the day that you will forget and feel guilty about forgetting later.
Instead, slow down a bit, and take the time to rekindle your relationship to French by sharing your thoughts, emotions, feelings. Go to a museum, to the cinema, to a restaurant.
Fall madly in love, and stay in love.
This is the heart of learning French mindfully.
What about you?
What does a special date with the French language look like for you?
How can you associate learning French with self-care and well-being?
I have created a unique and sustainable method to nurture your relationship to French, month after month. A little breath of fresh air. A bubble. Download the free Catalog Bulle de Français and discover what it’s all about.