Learning a new language can change your life and open up many doors for you. It can improve your career prospects, allow you to make friends in other countries and help you get more out of holidays and trips abroad. Every January many people decide that this is the year they are finally going to learn that language they always wished they learnt more of at school.
I believe that anyone can learn a language given the right attitude and by sticking to habits that make it a part of your daily life.
At the beginning of a new year is the best time to set fresh goals however, sticking to them throughout the year can be the real challenge. In this blog post we will give 10 tips to help you make sure you stick to your plan and meet your language learning goals.
The key to a successful plan is to come up with concrete goals of what you want to achieve and by when. Don’t just say “I want to be fluent in French”. What does being fluent actually mean? You may not need to be fluent just to enjoy a holiday in France. Try to write down achievable, definite goals such as “I want to be able to go into a restaurant in France, order a meal and drinks and ask questions within 3 months.”
Make a list of how exactly you are going to achieve your goals:
“In 2018 I am going to speak only in Spanish to the locals on my holiday by:
– Learning 5 new phrases every week
– Listening to 4 podcasts each month
– Practising with a language exchange partner
– Buying an up-to-date phrase book
– Using a flashcard app such as Anki
Make sure you know you can reach the goals you have set yourself. Don’t set goals just for the sake of it. Try to do something every day towards reaching your goals and you will surprise yourself at how quickly you will achieve them.
If no-one knows about your goals it will be much easier to let them fall by the wayside. On the other hand if you have told friends, family, colleagues about what you are planning to achieve this year, you will feel much more motivated to continue working towards achieving them.
Find someone who is also learning a language and you can support each other and keep each other motivated. You can find someone online, on facebook or other social media platforms or forums.
For extra motivation consider using Stickk which is an app where you set your goal and assign a penalty for not reaching your goal. If you end up paying the penalty, the money goes to charity.
If you are wondering how you are going to fit in language learning amongst all your other priorities, try to find smarter ways of working and time saving. For example, if you find you are spending more and more time on social media, try to use scheduling tools such as MeetEdgar or Hootsuite that can run your social media posts automatically.
Learning a language is challenging. Some things you will find easy, for example, learning new vocabulary or picking up new grammar rules, however you may struggle to speak the language or listen and understand native speakers. The key to staying motivated and ultimately achieving your goals is to focus on the progress you have made and not to the many things you still need to learn to become fluent.
You do not have to stick rigidly to your original plan. Life gets in the way, unexpected things happen when you just cannot continue the same pace of learning as you perhaps were at the beginning of the year. If this is the case, go back to your original plan and change it to suit your current circumstances. You may find you hated using a particular app or textbook and you now use different resources and tools. This is perfectly normal to discover new materials along the way.
Halfway through the year, evaluate your current level to work out if you are still on track to achieve your goal by the end of the year. If not, it is in no way at all a sign of failure to make adjustments to your original plan.
If you really need more motivation then why not register yourself for an exam or book yourself on an activity holiday or immersion school program in the country where the language is spoken for later in the year. This way, if you know you are going to really need to know the language, you will be much more focused on the end goal and what you need to do before it.