Learning a language can seem like an impossible mountain to climb, but goals can push you much further than you ever thought possible. They give you a sense of direction, keep you motivated, and give you a much greater chance of success.
However, creating your own objectives can be hard – and staying focused on them can be even harder. Here’s a quick guide on how you can achieve them.
1. Start with a focused goal
Many people make the mistake of creating goals that are too broad. Instead of saying I want to learn English, think about exactly what you want to achieve and why. The most important thing is that when you set your goals, they are specific and relevant to your needs and interests. For example:
- Perhaps you want to be able to write the perfect business email in English?
- Maybe you want to hold interesting conversations with the locals when traveling abroad?
- Or you might even want to get a good score on an exam like the Oxford Test of English?
To help set your own objectives, try asking yourself these questions:
- What do I want to do?
- How can I measure my success?
- When do I need to achieve it by?
2. Plan your success
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, it’s time to plan out how you will achieve them, step by step. For example, if you want to improve your business English small talk, you might start by being able to hold a two-minute conversation with classmates. Or, if you want to improve your reading comprehension, you might simply start by learning twenty new phrasal verbs in a month.
The key is to break down what you need to do into smaller pieces. Your goal will seem more manageable and you are more likely to achieve it that way. Let’s take a look at an example:
In six weeks, I want to be able to listen to a whole 30-minute episode of an interesting podcast in English.
My six-week plan:
- Week one: By the end of the week, I need to research and find a podcast that interests me.
- Week two: I need to listen to an episode for five minutes every day for a week. I will read the transcripts and write down vocabulary to understand as much as I can.
- Week three: I need to listen to an episode for ten minutes every day for a week. I will read the transcripts and write down new words to understand as much as possible.
- Week four: I need to listen to a whole episode, reading the transcript at the same time.
- Week five: I need to review all the new vocabulary I’ve learned.
- Week six: I need to listen to a whole podcast episode, then read the transcript to check I’ve understood everything.
3. Stay accountable
It’s easy to lose motivation as you work towards your goals, especially if you feel like you’re not making much progress. Before you start, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a visual reminder of my objectives?
- Who is supporting me in my language learning goals?
- Would I prefer to do this alone or with someone?
Write your goal on a Post-it note and put it somewhere you can see it all the time. This will make sure you remember to study.
Having someone to motivate you can also be very helpful, they can check on your progress and help you get back on track if you lose sight of your aims. Some people also like to work with a partner and others prefer to ask a teacher when they need help.
4. Measure your progress
It’s important to track your progress. Go back to your plan and tick off what you have achieved. This will help you see what you’ve achieved and show you what you still need to do:
|Week one: By the end of the week, I need to research and find a podcast that interests me.||✔️|
|Week two: I need to listen to an episode for five minutes every day for a week. I will read the transcripts and write down vocabulary to understand as much as I can.||✔️|
|Week three: I need to listen to an episode for ten minutes every day for a week. I will read the transcripts and write down vocabulary to understand as much as possible.||✔️|
|Week four: I need to listen to a whole episode, reading the transcript at the same time.||✔️|
|Week five: I need to review all the new vocabulary I’ve learned.||✔️|
|Week six: I need to listen to a whole podcast episode, then read the transcript to check I’ve understood everything.||✔️|
Good luck in setting your goals! Remember, a goal without a plan is just a dream. So if you really want to succeed, refer back to these four simple steps.
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