“This year is going to be so much better. It's a new year, new me!”
Does that sound familiar? It's January and I'm sure many of you have thought about making New Year's Resolutions, such as “get fitter” “stop smoking” and of course, “improve my English”. But does anyone ever stick to these goals? If you are like me, you probably follow your New Year's plan enthusiastically for a few weeks, but then get busy and forget all about it.
The key to making sure you continue and don't give up is to make your goals realistic and achievable. Here are some ideas to think about when setting a goal.
Don't say: By next year, I'll be fluent.
What does fluent mean, exactly? If your goal is too vague, you won't know when you've reached it. You will feel like you've been studying forever without getting anywhere and you just get frustrated.
Do: Decide a specific action to take. For example, if you want to feel more confident speaking English, perhaps your goal could be to have a conversation with a native speaker every week or join a weekly group class.
Make it manageable
Don't say: I'm going to write an essay in English every day.
This is certainly specific, but unless you have lots time to dedicate to English, it's unrealistic! You might start off well, but you could soon burn out and become disappointed when you fail. It's good to have a challenge, but don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Do: Work out how much time you can realistically spend on English. Perhaps you could commit to writing just 45 words every day (about the length of a tweet). Once you've built up a regular habit, increase the amount you write.
Don't say: I'm going to speak perfect English.
Well done for aiming high, but be kind to yourself. If every time you make a mistake you feel like a failure, then you will lose all motivation.
Do: Make it achievable. You may not get to perfection this year, but you can take steps to get closer. If it's accuracy you want to improve, try setting yourself small grammar tasks to complete. Or if you want to have clearer pronunciation, find short recordings and imitate the speaker's speech.
Make it personal
Don't say: I will learn vocabulary.
This is too general! We are more likely to stick to something we enjoy and it's easier to remember words that are important to us and that we'll use.
Do: Pick a topic you are interested in and set a goal connected with that. Are you into films? Watch your favourite films in English write down new expressions you hear. Like to cook? Follow recipes in English and note the new verbs and adjectives you find. You could also try out one of our flash card sets on Quizlet.
Share your plans with someone
Don't say: Nobody can help me.
Do: Involve other people in your plans. Tell your teacher about your goals and see if they have any suggestions or recommendations for you. Share with your ideas with your classmates so you can support each other and give regular updates on your progress.
One last note:
The most important thing is to keep at it. Even if you don't stick to your resolutions 100% (and let's be honest, no-one does), that's ok. Just keep practising. Soon you will start to see improvements, as each month you become a little more confident, a little more accurate, or remember a few more words than before.
If you want a helping hand to reach your language goals, simply book a free consultation to find out more about our live online classes.
So, what are your goals for this year? Tell us in the comments!