It’s that time of year again where we make a list of things we have the best of intention of doing, but after a short time we give up. We give up our resolutions because of time, we get bored, lose interest, the resolutions are unrealistic, no specific plan, wrong attitude or simply not believing you can. This time it’s going to be different and here’s how.
Lofty Goals no more
Many people start out the New Year by setting a lofty goal like “I’m going to speak (insert language) like a native. The goal is so big and overwhelming that we can’t meet it. Set your goal by making it attainable and specific. Instead choose a goal like “I’m going to learn 100 new words that relate to the kitchen such as to baste, glaze and whisk.
Make a Plan and Follow it
Another key factor to failed resolutions is people forgetting to make a plan. They simply say I’m going to learn 100 new words, but they don’t think about how they are going to do it. A step by step plan is vital to the success of your resolution. Decide specifically which 100 words you are going to learn. Are you going to use flashcards or authentic readings that include your words? Will you practice with a friend? How often will you practice? How will you assess yourself to see if you achieved your goals?
Have you heard the story of the Hare and the Tortoise? The Hare wants to go fast to win the race, but the Tortoise wants to go slow and steady. The Hare stops to rest right before the end of the race and the Tortoise ends up winning the race. The moral here is you don’t have to accomplish your goal all at once. Moving towards your goals in a slow and steady manner will ensure your success. It is better to study for 5 minutes every day learning one or two new words than to try cramming to learn 100 new words.
Make it Fun
One of the top reasons people give up their new year’s resolutions is they get bored. Repetition, let’s face it, can get boring. Doing the same thing the same way is boring, extremely boring. So find a way to mix it up and bring some variety to the job. If your goal is to learn a100 new words relating to the kitchen then one day study flashcards, the next read a recipe or watch a cooking show, play games on Quizlet or read an article on Readlang.com. Just make it interesting. After learning these 100 words change topics, learn 100 words relating to the garage.
Spending money on a language class or a tutor or books can get expensive and can cause many people to give up on their resolutions. This financial burden can be very daunting. The internet to the rescue, there are thousands of sites online where you can learn and practice languages.
Change Your Attitude
Goals are not black and white. You learn 100 new words you succeed, but if you learn only 99 words you fail? Change your attitude. If you learn only 20 new words this is a success since these are 20 words you didn’t know before.
I hope these steps not only help you make goals, but keep them. Happy New Year!
What goals are you making in 2017?
Choosing resources to learn a foreign language can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The first thing you need to realize is that everyone learns differently. Some people learn better by sitting in class and others by practicing flashcards. So how know which resources to use? The following are steps to help you figure that out.
- Determine your level
Knowing whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advance level will help in selecting your resources. If you don’t know what level you are at there are websites where you can test yourself.
- Set your goals
Decide which areas you want to improve, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary, or grammar. Do you want to be able to ask directions or do you want to understand a telenovela? When setting your goals remember to make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely – SMART GOALS.
- Research Possible Resources
Research possible resources by reading reviews, articles and blogs. Find out what works for other language learners. Don’t forget to ask people on Facebook or on language forums.
- Determine your favorite learning style
Do you prefer to sit in class and have guided instruction or do you prefer to study on your own? Do you prefer to watch videos or listen to music? Do you prefer to translate or study flashcards? There are many styles of learning and resources to match them. In order to select the best resources you need to know how you want to learn.
- Matching resources to your goals
Now that you have set your goals, done your research, and determined your learning style it is now time to match your resources to your goals.
RESOURCES FOR WRITING
Lang-8.com – practice your writing and have a native speaker correct it.
Duolingo.com – translate articles.
RESOURCES FOR LISTENING
Rhinospike- listen to recordings done by native speakers of texts that you upload.
Podcasts in the language you want to learn.
RESOURCES FOR SPEAKING
Italki.com –Site where you can find language exchange partners
Verbling.com – website that uses a conversation style known as chat roulette, where you are connected completely randomly to a stranger and can start to video or chat to them.
RESOURCES FOR READING
Readlang.com- allows you to read articles, books or any other online texts by allowing you to pull up a dictionary by clicking on a word or phrase.
RESOURCES FOR GRAMMAR
yourdictionary.com/grammars.html – Links to a wide range of online grammar resources and language courses.
vocabulix.com – vocabulary and conjugation trainers for English, German and Spanish
RESOURCES FOR VOCABULARY
Quizlet.com- A site where you can make your own flashcards or use other people’s cards.
Anki.com- Flashcard program
Learning vocabulary, lots of vocabulary and grammar rules not to mention pronunciation and word order can be frustrating. Feeling overwhelmed can cause anxiety and irritation making it difficult to remember new words; understand speech and pronunciation. Staying calm or “going with the flow” will allow you to learn a foreign language easier and to enjoy learning it.
One of first things you need to realize when learning a foreign language is that everyone learns at different speeds. Also certain topics may be easier for you to understand while others will be more challenging to learn.
There are a few things as a language learner you need to be aware of:
- Generally written language is easier to understand than spoken language
- Slower speech is easier to understand than fast speech
- Switching back and forth between two languages is difficult
- It is possible to understand every word and still not understand the meaning of the sentence
- When you’re tired it is more difficult to understand a foreign language
- Every language is unique and if you learn one language in three months does not guarantee that you will learn another in the same time frame.
Frustration occurs when you’re not happy with your results or you’re not meeting your goals. By following these suggestions you can avoid being frustrated and continue learning:
- Redefine your goals – if you set your goals too high or life gets in the way simply readjust your goals. Allowing yourself to get frustrated only gets in the way of learning so by redefining your goals you remove what you find frustrating. Make sure your goals are achievable and measureable.
- Take some time away from what’s frustrating you.After a short time away from studying you will feel fresh and ready to begin again. Look for specific and new ways to tackle what has been difficult for you to learn.
- Find ways to make learning enjoyable. This is perhaps the most important suggestion. How many times have you studied a difficult subject only to realize that it was easier than you thought it would be because it was taught in fun and interactive way? Listen to a song, watch a movie, or read a book in the language you’re learning.
- Track what you learned. – Keep a record of what you have learned. By doing this you can go back and see how much you have learned. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
Remember, it is perfectly ok to make mistakes, misunderstand, misspeak or simply screw up when learning a language just try to relax and avoid frustration. We all make mistakes!