Fri, 08 Jan 2021 13:18:12 +0000Géralde Vincent-BancroftPlanning is key, and this saying “Success is in the planning” is true.
Once again it is a new year, and it is when we tend to rekindle our resolutions. These are usually vague – “I want to learn Japanese”- and this does not mean that it will happen. You must make a language study plan, put all…
Planning is key, and this saying “Success is in the planning” is true.
Once again it is a new year, and it is when we tend to rekindle our resolutions. These are usually vague – “I want to learn Japanese”- and this does not mean that it will happen. You must make a language study plan, put all your ideas on paper if you genuinely care about achieving your goal; and here I will tell you how.
It might feel a humongous task at first, but it is not that complicated.
First, block out a few hours in your calendar for this task. Have a notebook, pens, pencils, markers, erasers ready. Try to avoid interruptions: silence your phone notifications, tell your family about the importance of not being interrupted, set the mood with music, if it inspires you, and let’s start.
If it is your first time wanting to learn this new language, assess your learning priorities: ask yourself how important it is for you to accomplish this new goal, how this will be advantageous to you, how does knowing this new language will shape your future, where you would like to be at the end of the year, or in two years time with this project.
If you’ve been studying the language for a while, your first step should be to review your language journey in the past year. Did you meet your objectives? If you had one. What where your successes? Where did you fail? What went wrong? How can you improve your plan this time around? This yearly review will help you assess exactly where you stand so that you can determine which direction you want to pursue in your language journey. It will also tell you what worked – you’ll be able to add more of these strategies in your current plan- and what you should get rid of this time.
Having a language diary can be helpful for this exercise and if you are not used to it, it’s a good time to start because your yearly review will be very easy.
“What should I log in that diary?” I hear you say.
Here it goes:
Time of your learning session
Place: Is it a college or university course? Is it an online session?
Type of resources you are using: a textbook? A YouTube video? A language podcast?
Type of practice: was it a grammar revision with exercises, a 30-minute conversation with a language partner? A class with an online tutor?
New words, phrases and sentences learned during the language session.
It will only take a few minutes at the end of each learning session and in hindsight, it will give you valuable information that you can analyse.
Be aware of what you can do with the language.
If you do not know your current language level, answer these simple questions:
Can you understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to personal and family information, shopping? Can you catch the main point in short, clear messages?
Can you understand texts that contain everyday job related language?
Can you communicate in simple and routine task requiring direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities?
Can you describe in simple terms your family and other people?
Can you write short, simple notes and messages? Can you write a very simple personal letter?
If you wish to assess more in depth your current level, please click here.
What you want to accomplish
Use visualisation as part of your language learning process. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year? See yourself succeeding at whatever plan you set up.
For example, if your aim is being able to converse at a deeper level in the language you are studying, visualise yourself doing it. Evoke the circumstance in which it happens vividly and in detail.
Visualisations is about self-improvement.
Visualisation provides strength and courage when faced with daunting tasks. Visualisation triggers hormones and enhance synaptic connections in your brain that make it easier to achieve goals.
Visualisation neutralises negativity. More than ever, you need some positivity in your life.
With a positive attitude you will feel more able to accomplish the necessary changes you need to get to where you want to be.
During a visualisation session you get to experience your dream outcome.
Visualisation encourages purpose. With visualisation you develop self-beliefs, and you will discover the various steps required to succeed.
Success in second language learning is linked to learners ability to see themselves succeeding.
Make a list.
Write down what time you have available for a language activity each day.
Outline all your language objectives. For each goal you need to sort out the possible step you will take to achieve it.
Again, if you want to be fully conversational you need to suss out, how you are going to practice. Is it with a friend who speaks the language, or with the help of an online tutor? When? Is it going to be at night when you come back from work, or in the morning when you feel more alert? The more specific you are, the better.
Break down your goals into simple tasks.
Now that you have the big vision of what you want to accomplish, break down these big scary goals into simple tasks that you will schedule in your diary. This will allow you to concentrate in your short-term learning goals daily. This will be a way to make sure you’re keeping on track and accountable by establishing a deadline for these tasks.
You’ll know by now what you want to learn, the available time slots, your deadlines, the only thing left is to write your plan down in one place. You can use a notebook or an online software. Using the Pomodoro system split your time into twenty-minute slots and assign a language activity to each. Remember to reserve at least twenty percent of your time for revision.
Break down your goals into simple tasks
Now everything is in place: you know your current level, you visualised your end-goal, you dissected these goals into small tasks, you’ve sussed out a timetable. Now the only thing left is to act; just start implementing these tasks written in your diary.
If you genuinely want to succeed, you must be consistent and break the New Year resolution’s cycle. You must carry on your language study regularly according to the timetable you have implemented. It is the only way to make effective progress. There is no magic wand, I’m afraid.
It is said that it takes 28 days to build a habit. So, you should persist until learning becomes a natural part of your daily routine and you will then be less compelled to use your willpower to make things happen. Also sharing your plan with an accountability partner might help you stick with it.
“Plan your work today and everyday, then work your plan”. Margaret Thatcher
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