Why Setting Yourself a Learning Challenge Helps you Succeed

Why Setting Yourself a Learning Challenge Helps you Succeed

Want to succeed in learning a new language? Set yourself a learning challenge! Read on to find out exactly why challenge based learning works.
April 12 2021

(Not) Breaking News: Success doesn’t come overnight. Even when you’re super determined to reach your language learning goals - it takes time and effort. Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear, but if motivation came easily, the world would be a different place. Everyone would be running faster than Usain Bolt, making millions going viral on TikTok and giving Nigella a run for her money in the kitchen. We know life’s not that easy, so what’s the solution? Learning challenges! Strap in and buckle up: We’re here to tell you why setting yourself a learning challenge will have you jetting off with a one way ticket to Success City.


Usain Bolt


The Lowdown on Learning challenges 

Challenge based learning can be anything that encourages you to gain a new skill, like speaking a new language, usually within a certain timeframe. Also, we don’t just mean learning in the traditional sense of the word. Any kind of challenge that encourages self improvement, gaining a new skill or finding a new hobby is one we can fully get behind. 


Even if you’re usually kind of unmotivated by these things, it makes sense to give them a go, especially if you’re looking to gain a new skill. The value of setting yourself a language learning challenge is pretty much endless:


  • It takes away the legwork! You don’t need to agonise over picking a ‘proper’ time frame; most challenges are already set to take place over a set amount of days, so you can prepare yourself and bring your A-game each day. 
  • It gives you something to look forward to (even if the thing you look forward to is ticking it off your to-do list). Plus, with the world s l o w l y opening up again, there’ll soon be more chances than ever to use your new language skills. 
  • You might win a decent prize 🍀 as they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it right?!
  • It can motivate you to learn! Some people are driven by competing (especially with themselves) so even if you think you’re a Lazy Learner then try a challenge - you might just surprise yourself.


From daunting to doable in a matter of minutes

Okay, maybe not quite minutes. Probably more like days (but it sounded catchy, didn’t it?). Did you know it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit? 😱 Yep, that’s the best part of a year! While it depends on the habit in question and each individual person’s ability to adapt to new scenarios, 254 days can look pretty daunting. But we’re here to dispel that myth! 


Let’s be real: There are a good few challenges that come with online learning, and it’s extremely rare that someone’s going to commit themselves to 254 days of learning. That’s pretty daunting to commit to straight away and really, just too much. But the prospect of doing something for 18 days? Or even 28 days? Now that seems more doable. (Because a learning challenge takes some of the legwork away by setting achievable, time specific goals) 

Daily Language Learning Goals - Memrise

When your goals are generic and lack a timeframe (think “get fit” or “learn Spanish”) then it’s likely that you won’t track your progress (or even make any in the first place!) Resolutions that are specific and realistic in scope are key. Try something like “Run a mile in less than ten minutes by April” or “Learn 100 words in Spanish by my Summer holiday”. You can plan how to achieve these goals a lot more easily and with small, manageable steps. If you’re numbers-driven, then this kind of specificity is great! But what about if you aren’t? Flexibility is key. Make it a number range, for example: “I want to learn between 50-100 Spanish words in 3-4 months”.


Motivation for the nation 

We’re not going full Joe Wicks on you, but setting yourself a learning challenge can  basically give you a daily boost of motivation. You’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something and can see tangible results the closer you get to the end of the challenge. Take fitness challenges as an example. They usually take a short amount of time out of your day, and once they’re done, you can smugly sit there, all proud of yourself, and feel motivated to complete tomorrow’s challenge.


Joe Wicks


Our 28-day Street Smart Challenge (more on this later) goes by the exact same principle. Head onto memrise.com every day for 28 days and complete your (quick) daily learning session, and prizes could be yours. 


If they’re up for it, get your friends involved. It adds an extra competitive element to the challenge and it’s fun to compare scores. Plus there’s the added bonus of being able to speak the language/ do a full five minute plank/ bake a show-stopping sourdough together at the end of the challenge.   


It’s your challenge, we’re all just living in it 

Another bonus that comes with setting yourself a learning challenge is that no-one’s gonna be on your a$$ if you ‘fall off the wagon’ or don’t complete a session. It’s down to you to keep learning! Of course, any challenge worth its salt will offer you useful content to keep you motivated and engaged throughout the time, but there is some good news:


It’s actually been found that if you have a couple of off-days here and there, there won’t be *too* much of an effect on your overall progress. Now, that’s not an excuse to slack off if you just can’t be bothered that day, but if there’s a setback, or life gets in the way as is so often the case, don’t give up! Instead, just take things one day at a time and get back on the wagon and get some learning done as soon as you can.


Plus, when it comes to the end of the learning challenge, you’ll likely have gained some knowledge, built the foundations of a new (good) habit, and done something to benefit your brain health - triple win! Sure, you don’t expect to be one hundred percent fluent by the end, but you will be able to catch some gossip while on holiday, or watch a Netflix series and not have to look at the screen ALL the time to see the subtitles #win. 


The Memrise Street Smart Challenge

So, you know earlier we mentioned “any challenge worth its salt?” That’s us. 28 days to Get Street Smart in Spanish is a web-only learning challenge that takes… you guessed it, 28 days. It’s a super-achievable amount of time, and it’ll feature loads of new content daily, like funny video clips, handy phrases and pop-ups to keep you motivated and engaged. So why should you commit? Apart from ALL the reasons we’ve just listed, it’s pretty cool to challenge yourself to something new. It keeps life exciting. Fresh. Jazzy, if you will. 


Reckon this will float your boat? Discover more on memrise.com


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