A time honoured tradition, at least in Western culture, is making resolutions for the New Year. For many people 2024 will be the year they are determined to learn a new language. The reality is, they will need guidance.
Here’s a guide for helping them create and keep these resolutions by helping them avoid common pitfalls.
Crafting a Language-Learning New Year’s Resolution
As language teachers, guiding learners to formulate effective resolutions is your role. Often, the biggest obstacle learners face is setting a resolution that lacks specificity. Merely stating, “I will learn (this language) next year,” sounds promising but lacks the necessary direction for a successful start, let alone end.
Before blindly going into it, encourage them to reflect on why they want to learn in the first place, and get some details.
- How proficient do they aim to become?
- What are their objectives? What do they want to be able to do with the language?
- How much time and money can they dedicate to this?
SMART Goals Framework
Once they have reflected on their motivations and resources, the next step is giving them a framework. A proven goal-meeting framework are “SMART” goals. Developed in the 1980s, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. While initially designed for work-related projects, its adaptability renders it suitable for various objectives, including language learning.
Encourage learners to pinpoint their language-learning goals with precision. What specific tasks do they intend to accomplish? Examples include:
- Read news articles or literature
- Holding conversations with native speakers so they can travel freely
- Study a certain program at a university
Language learning progress can be nebulous. Where do you start? Suggest methods to tangibly measure progress, such as:
- Complete specific courses or lessons per week or month you may build for them, like ones you may find here:
- Practice speaking for, let’s say, 15 minutes a day with a partner, like Immersio’s Immy Chat
- Match with a partner or tutor for regular feedback and assessment on their learning goals, like Immersio’s Tutor Match
It’s easy to set numbers for your goals, it’s harder to carry out activities to achieve them. So, emphasize the importance of setting realistic goals for their situation in life.
Have them answer questions like:
- What time of the day or week can they regularly study?
- Have they built in breaks in case emergencies happen?
- How does this goal work in their daily routine?
After specific, measurable, and achievable goals are set, ensure that they are relevant to their true motivations. Confirm the motivations they have that will keep them dedicated when times are tough, like literary interests, heritage exploration, or major life achievements, and show them how the learning path you give them helps them reach those goals.
It’s easy to say what you’ll do in one year, it’s harder to break it down into smaller, meaningful endpoints. Recommend short-term milestones, such as completing a course within 2 weeks to gain a specific skill, or become conversational within one month by doing this each day. Then outline how this contributes to the building their fluency for reaching their longer term goals.
Nurturing Language-Learning Resolutions
Once the resolution is set, the journey begins! As educators, supporting learners through potential roadblocks is arguably where you’re needed the most.
When progress stagnates, assure learners that plateaus are a natural and expected phase:
- Highlight their achievements to date to counteract any perception of halted progress, like any language certificates they have achieved in courses completed.
- Reevaluate measurement methods to capture diverse aspects of learning, beyond vocabulary acquisition.
Life’s unpredictability might impede the pace of progress. Teach learners the importance of flexibility:
- Encourage a reframing of objectives to make sure they remain realistic, given the other demands in their life
- Advocate for flexible learning routines to alleviate unnecessary pressure, such as one day a week built in for general review or catching up
Reviving Waning Interest
Lethargy might creep in despite initial enthusiasm. Encourage learners to stick to habits and proven methods over relying on unwavering motivation, which is likely not sustainable.
- Incorporate occasional rewards to make the learning process enjoyable.
- Revisit motivations through related activities like trip planning or cultural exploration as you make personal and apply their learning to date
- Diversify learning methods to avoid monotony, like special courses or events.
Learning in 2024
Mastering another language is a worthy goal, not only for your objectives, but your mental and overall health as well. Once they achieve their goals, check in regularly to expand their goals for new years, set new SMART goals, and help them get through roadblocks.
If you are a language instructor or part of an institution that works with aspiring language learners, but struggling to expand your instruction online, either to find new communities or convert your current content to an interactive, online medium, reach out today to get a conversation started to see how we at Immersio can help.