Have you experienced working tirelessly putting all your effort into something everyday without a reason. You are just doing it because you have to, and not having any aspirations for yourself or those arounds you? Does it feel like you are just getting by everyday without direction? That is life without a goal.
Goal setting is an essential tool for self-motivation and self drivenness for both personal and professional levels. This goes the same when learning a new thing. Specifically learning a new language.
You must have a reason for learning a new language and a goal that you set so that you will know what you want to achieve in a period of time. Setting a goal in learning a new language would enable you to prioritize the things that you want to learn first, rather than just learning all aspects at once.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART is an acronym for:
- Specific (and also strategic)
- Measurable (motivating)
- Achievable (attainable, action-oriented)
- Relevant (realistic, reasonable, and result-based)
- Time-bound (time limited, trackable, and time-sensitive)
The list above sets the parameters for goal setting. The words inside the parentheses are added merely to expand the philosophy to other areas that use goal setting as a foundation for its progress.
SMART Goals: The Scientific Approach
What happens to your brain when you apply SMART Goal setting in setting your goals in learning a new language?
There are many ways to apply SMART Goals in learning a new language. This means being specific as to what aspect of the language you want to hit first. You will not be able to learn all the domains of the new language all at once.
For example, the new language that you wanted to learn is French. You may learn conversational French. This means you may easily conduct daily transactions and be able to navigate social situations, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have already mastered the language.
Now if you are more on the academic side of things, you might find yourself more focused on studying grammar and vocabulary. Etymology of words and how they came to mean and what they did.
Being able to apply the SMART method in your learning process, you are giving your brain time to take small chunks out of the overwhelming task of learning an entire language. It would help you be more organized in your learning methods and ideas. Also it will help you keep more focused on your objective because you are able to take down one task at a time.
What Happens in Your Brain as You Learn
Our brain draws on several types of memory. Some of these are explicit memory, episodic memory, long term memory etc. So there are things that we do that are almost automatic and we never forget them simply because our brains store these memories so that we need them we can draw them out.
Neurons are responsible for gathering, processing, and storing information from our memory sector. However as we learn different languages, our brain cannot use the same pathways to transfer and store information as they use for the first language that we have learned. Thus, new neural pathways are established and produced.
When you are starting to learn a new language, it would be a strenuous exercise as the chemical messengers that carry the said information must take a leap from one nerve ending to the other. However as you continue learning, the pathways become more travelled, hence, the new words that you learned are being absorbed and stored in your brain much more efficiently.
One great thing about the brain is that it continuously processes information more efficiently which allows you to spend your life learning things that you want without the fear of forgetting or losing all the past things that you have already learned and mastered.
Although, one downside is that despite all the efficiency that our brain can do, it still has a lot of energy to spare. The brain usually spends its spare energy on daydreaming, worrying, and entertaining. So we easily get distracted and lose our focus.
How to Set SMART Language Acquisition Goals
Combining the SMART philosophy with continuous learning, you will not lose your drive and hunger to learn. Most especially if you want to learn a new language.
- Specific - be specific and strategic in setting your goals. For example if you want to learn French, how would you learn it? Will you plan on taking classes? Or will you have a private tutor? What aspect of French do you want to learn? Be specific and strategize on how you will go about learning the new language.
- Measurable - a goal that is measurable would be somehow motivating for you. Motivating in a sense that you will be able to track your progress and be more encouraged to continue when you finish or attain something.
- Achievable - make sure that when you set your goals, it can be done and it is a goal that is within your capacity. Do not set goals that are too much to handle. Remember that learning a new language takes commitment, hard work, and dedication.
- Relevant - have a goal that is realistic and something that you will be able to do and would somehow guarantee you results. For example , if you want to learn how to converse in French, then maybe you don't have to dwell too much on a lot of tenses in French, rather, focus on the most-used ones and be good at using those.
- Time-bound - your goal should be trackable that you would be setting a certain period of time to achieve that goal. Remember that sometimes the brain tends to lean towards distraction once it has become loaded with information as well as it is already good and used to the information that you are feeding it, it may lead to procrastination and the end result might be you may not want to continue on learning the new language.
Four Steps to Successful SMART Goal-Setting
- Make a plan - have a brilliant plan! Chalking out your goals by your strengths, aspirations, and affinities is an excellent way to build a working program. This would help you formulate and focus on how you will implement your actions.
- Explore resources - Now that you have established a brilliant and solid plan, it is now time to start building your knowledge towards what you want. For learning a new language, checking out classes, private tutors, and researching on the internet would help you reach your goal.
- Be accountable - Accountability is a crucial requisite of setting your goals. It would be up to you how and how long you would learn the new language. Try to find someone that speaks the language that you want to learn. Be it a friend or a colleague that can guide you and increase your chances of sticking to your goal of learning that language.
- Use rewards and feedback - rewarding yourself once you achieve your goal or just make a small progress is a great thing. Doing this, you would motivate yourself more into pursuing and attaining the goal that you set and learn the language.
Tips for Writing SMART Goals
- To be able to make your objectives time bound, try to start off your goal with "By the end of (your preferred duration) I would have…". starting it off this way would help you have a clearer grasp of when you will be able to achieve your goal/s.
- Try not to git everything that you want to do in just one objective. Objectives need to be specific. So you need to enumerate and prioritize the things that can be achieved in a shorter period of time.
- Ensure that your language learning objective target would be something achievable and doable in the time span that you have set.
- And lastly, think ahead. Try to visualize or plan it out in your head for possible contingencies just in case things will not go or sway your way.
Goal setting really is an essential tool that would set the tone if you want to do something. It would give direction and clarity as to what you want or what you are supposed to be doing. Relating this in language acquisition, having a SMART Goal would give structure as you go on learning. A SMART goal would help you pinpoint the things that you want to prioritize.
Superprof can help steer you in the right direction. Signing up for our tutorial classes might be the boost that you need. Visit our website today to learn more about what we have to offer.
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