I remember being in primary school, and my teacher mentioning to my parents that I wasn’t very interested in reading. After talking it through with my parents it became clear that I thought the books we were reading were boring and I didn’t have any interest in reading them. The solution to the problem turned out to be comics.
My parents bought a huge pile of second hand comics, hundreds of them. It worked, the comics acted as a stimulant, a catalyst to encourage reading and also promote reading as a fun activity.
20 or so years later I was faced with a similar situation, but with learning a second language, Chinese. Though I am not specifically promoting reading Chinese comics as a method to learn Chinese (though if that’s your thing then go right ahead). The point I am trying to make is that when starting out learning a language motivation everything. Probably just as much now, being an adult, as when we were children.
When learning Chinese what I ended up doing for the first year was to force myself through the textbooks. While at the same time buying magazines and books that I someday hoped to be able to read. Then as soon as I had a vocabulary large enough to read enough of those books I ditched the textbooks and started reading them, and also chose Chinese courses that didn’t rely on those boring textbooks. And, well, it seems to have worked so far.
The problem is that when given a choice of materials, there might be a tendancy to stay within a comfort zone by only choosing learning materials that are of a specific area of interest. Which in the long run might have a negative affect on learning.
Ultimately the question comes down to what is most important – to have the motivation and be able to maintain it long enough to learn a second language, or to force your self to read learning materials that bore your to death, yet are more diverse?
What choices have you made whilst learning Chinese? Do you stick to the textbooks? (do you even like the textbooks?) or are you out finding your own learning materials to maintain motivation?