Real-world speech learning often occurs in high-pressure situations such as trying to communicate in a foreign country. However, the impact of pressure on speech learning success is largely unexplored. In this study, adult, native speakers of English learned nonnative speech categories under pressure or no-pressure conditions. In the pressure conditions, participants were informed that they were paired with a (fictitious) partner, and that each had to independently exceed a performance criterion for both to receive a monetary bonus. They were then informed that their partner had exceeded the bonus and the fate of both bonuses depended upon the participant's performance. Our results demonstrate that pressure significantly enhanced speech learning success. In addition, neurobiologically inspired computational modeling revealed that the performance advantage was due to faster and more frequent use of procedural learning strategies. These results integrate two well-studied research domains and suggest a facilitatory role of motivational factors in speech learning performance that may not be captured in traditional training paradigms.