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Do you get bored when learning a language? It doesn’t have to be that way!

In your memories of junior high or high school, you may have found language lessons boring. The lists of English irregular verbs made you yawn. The monotonous voice of your German teacher was really “dull”. In fact, learning a foreign language was not very motivating for you. Why is boredom in language learning so common? What are the causes? Can we finally think about stimulating language training? Let’s take a look together…

Boredom in language learning: a subject that is still under study

How does boredom affect foreign language learning?

A number of scientific studies have looked at the link between emotions and language learning. While anxiety has been the most widely analysed emotion, others such as boredom, deserve further investigation. In fact, there is evidence that emotions can have an impact on both the process and the outcome of language learning. Boredom, for example, can lead to a negative psychological state that causes cognitive disengagement or even abandonment of learning.

Three researchers therefore recently decided to investigate the topic of ‘boredom‘ in order to identify the main factors that can cause this feeling in learners.

They conducted a study in several phases, with Chinese university students and teachers learning English as a foreign language.

In the first phase, the scientists found that almost 93% of the respondents had experienced boredom during their English lessons. This allowed them to identify 7 main factors of boredom(*) which were then tested in the subsequent phases of the study.

7 factors that can make language learning a burden

At the end of their research, the specialists were able to identify 47 forms of expression of boredom among the students, which they divided into a set of 7 factors. Boredom can therefore be linked to :

Factor 1 – An unfavourable learning environment (classroom): difficulties in concentrating, the learner finds the lesson too long and thinks of other things.

Factor 2 – Unstimulating work assignments: exercises lack variety or last too long.

Factor 3 – Dull PowerPoint presentations: a lot of text, few pictures, other media might be more appropriate.

Factor 4 – Tedious homework: too much or not enough homework.

Factor 5 – A teacher/trainer who fails to engage students: lack of ‘chemistry’ between the learner and the teacher, the teacher is self-effacing or digresses too much.

Factor 6 – Lack of interest in studying in general: the learner does not like to study or does not see the value of English in his curriculum.

Factor 7 – Tasks that are too complicated or seen as uninteresting: the learner loses motivation when he does not understand the task or its purpose.

Blended Learning: a cure for boredom for learners?

Blended Learning: an unexplored area

L’étude mentionnée précédemment reconnaît ne pas être exhaustive sur la The above-mentioned study acknowledges that it is not exhaustive on this issue. Indeed, by the authors’ own admission: “We did not take into account boredom in mobile learning or other forms of extramural learning.”

So what if the solution lies in these “other” learning methods, such as Blended Learning?

If you have read our article ‘Blended Learning decoded’ then you already know that it has many advantages:

  • lower costs;
  • simplified logistics;
  • time-saving; and
  • better learner engagement.

When blended learning deals with the boredom factor

What is it about blended learning that appeals so much to those involved in language training?

This distance learning method allows for the right balance between the use of digital tools and the human factor. By alternating between independent sessions and sessions with a trainer (by telephone or video conference for example), learners can be offered a variety of tasks (2nd factor).

🔎 To go further, download our complimentary white paper: 7 tips for finding the right balance between digital and human in language training.

Moreover, as the programmes are tailor-made, everyone benefits from lessons and exercises adapted to their level and needs (4th and 7th factors).

In some cases, such as for 1to1PROGRESS English language training, learners can even choose a trainer who specialises in a particular field or has the same interests. So goodbye to the boredom linked to the “poor trainer/trainee combo” (5th factor)!

It is also important to know that blended learning courses are based on the use of a platform (LMS – Learning Management System). With this platform, learners have access to an incredible variety of resources and teaching materials (3rd factor).

Finally, the same platform and the use of other digital tools allow the boundaries of the traditional classroom to be broken down (1st factor).

To summarise, quality blended language training is able to address 6 out of the 7 factors that generate boredom among learners. Not bad, eh?

(*)Source: C. Li et al, Foreign Language Learning Boredom: Conceptualization and Measurement, Applied Linguistics Review, November 2021