Setting Yourself Goals
Setting yourself goals is an important facet of language learning. If you do not set yourself goals you will have nothing to aim for. Without anything to aim for, you will have little impetus to learn and practise. So write a list of goals when you start learning. They can be as abstract or as concrete as you like, but the important thing is that you have them and stick to them – giving you something to aim for will give your language learning a sense of purpose.
ExamsYou may choose to set yourself goals that have real and tangible results. This is akin to the goals set for schoolchildren when they learn a language – that is, an exam. This is a good way of measuring yourself against your peers. On the downside, you may find that an exam places too much pressure on you and compares you against others when you want to be compared against yourself.
If you do decide to set yourself the goal of an exam, then there are many you can choose from. Many places that offer language courses will also offer a wide range of exams, which you can take as well. These include GCSEs and A-levels, as well as less common ones such as the RSA qualifications. If you are setting yourself the goal of as exam then you should also stipulate how much time you should spend learning before you attempt an exam. This may be as short as a year, but if you are only having one lesson a week you may want to allow yourself a little longer.
A Trip AbroadYou may wish to set yourself a less tangible goal and choose something more practical. If you have a trip abroad planned, you may want to achieve a good level of conversation by the time you go. What a good level of conversation is, is up to you, but it should mean you would be able to hold your own in a conversation with a native speaker and have them understand you.
A goal of this type may also influence the way you learn the language. If you are learning a language for a trip then you will want to learn lots of phrases for holidaymaking. If you are learning it for a work trip then you may want to make sure you have plenty of business related phrases before you go. After you have completed the trip, if you managed to speak to people in the native language, you will feel as much of a success as if you have aced an exam.
ConversationYour goal could also be that you want to achieve certain levels of conversation by the time you have been learning for a set amount of time. This could include being able to order a meal by the time you have been learning for six months and being able to talk about how you spent your holidays after a year. The topics of conversation are up to you but when setting yourself goals, make sure you increase the difficulty of the goals in line with the length of time you have been learning. Knowing that you can hold a conversation about one subject or another will increase your confidence, making the goals you set yourself worthwhile.
Goals are a necessary evil for many walks of life, but particularly when learning something. Learning a language is no different to this at all. Setting yourself goals will give you something to aim for and in the long term help you to improve your language skills.