Words are powerful tools. Not only can they communicate nuanced thoughts and complex feelings, but they can actually influence our thoughts and feelings, too.

Consider, for example, the profound difference between “have to” and “get to” when coupled with the phrase “study Japanese today”:

  1. I have to study Japanese today.
  2. I get to study Japanese today.

The former connotes laborious effort, obligation, sacrifice, and boredom. The latter speaks to play, freedom, privilege, and excitement.

Unless you are a language learning masochist, most of us prefer the emotions and motivational juice afforded by “get to” over “have to”. This small linguistic change can be a powerful lever that creates a massive, instantaneous psychological shift that helps you make more progress in your language learning journey while having far more enjoyment along the way.

So the next time you catch yourself looking upon language study with dread instead of joy, try changing just this one word and experience the power of positive framing.

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