When people get excited about something, especially if it's a new thing they wanted to learn, they sometimes forget to set goals and just push through it head-on. Setting a goal is important in every endeavor that you will pursue. Particularly if you want to learn something new, like learning a new language. 

Now that we're in a world wherein everything we need is at the tip of our fingers, learning a new language would really be easily accessible to everybody. However, not having a set goal before learning a new language might only lead to wasting time. Having a solid goal to aim before starting to learn a new language will be crucial in the long term.

Language Learning through Goals. Source: Pexels
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What to Avoid When Setting Language Learning Goals

Keep in mind that learning a new language, no matter what language it is it will always be challenging and difficult. The internet might fool you into thinking that there will be shortcuts for you to learn a new language. There might be a way to streamline learning but it won't guarantee that you will be able to remember everything. Your brain can only remember and take in so much.

When you study anything new, it is directly stored to your short term memory. So if you forget something that you just learned, try to remember it, exercise your brain, try to go back and remember what you have learned and there will be a better chance of you remembering that thing and a good change that it will go to your long term memory. 

Give your brain time to process and store new knowledge. You should also know your strengths in learning so that you will be able to adjust as to how you will go about learning a new language. Be realistic in setting your learning goal because learning a new language would really take some time.

How to Successfully Approach Language Learning

Rushing learning would never help fully learn a new language. Cramming and rushing into learning something might have helped you before in passing your exams but it is not applicable when learning a new language.

Language is a tool and skill that needs to be used often. There are a lot of components in learning a new language. Every language has 4 domains: reading, writing, listening comprehension, and speaking. Once you realize that language is so complex that even speaking still has 2 more additional components which are presentation and conversation (speaking to someone and with someone). Once you realize all this things it would be clear that learning a new language should not be crammed.

Language is Complex

Learning a new language can be tasky and would require your commitment in learning all categories. Reading and writing can maybe be the easiest task of all because it can be somehow mastered through repetition and memorization. However for listening and speaking it's a different thing because you would really have to use it through constant practice be it really speaking to someone in that language or listening to audios.

In terms of speaking it wouldn't be a walk in the park because you will have to teach and make your mouth get used to speaking in a new way. Your brain won't be able to process and remember all these information all at once. It's not something that you can rush. You have to really immerse and expose yourself to language regularly over time to get better at hearing it. 

Each of the four domains of language would really take time to fully master. You can work hard and consistently practice the language but you can only do so much. It will take time for you to master each domain so you need to set realistic and attainable goals to reach the level of fluency that you want, fast. 

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What is a Goal?

How goals benefit your language learning progress. Source: Pexels

Sounds easy right? In context, a goal is simply something that you set your mind to and make happen. However goals are a bit more complicated than that. It's an entirely different thing when you're talking about effective goals. And an effective goal is something that you would have to have especially in learning a new language

Let's say that you're trying to learn French. You can't just throw it out there and say that "My goal is to be fluent in speaking french. " Well that goal sounds great! However, being fluent involves a lot of things. It's a combination of all the domains of language. So be realistic in setting your goals and in time, you will be able to achieve that fluency that you want.

Why Set Language Goals?

Research shows that the people who most likely to become successful are people that set goals. Goals will help you achieve what you want because:

  • Goals help you identify what you want to achieve - Setting a goal would help you identify what you want to accomplish so you can start learning a new language right. 
  • Goals keep you focused on what's important (and help you ignore what's not) - Learning a new language will require you to be familiarized with a number of different grammar points, vocabulary words, and cultural competencies. A goal will help you stay focused so that you won't get affected by any distractions. Focusing on minute details and smaller bits of information, you make faster progress and gain tangible skills.
  • Goals save you time - Send your energy and resources wisely in learning a new language. Instead of memorizing a great number of words that you won't readily use, spend your time and energy learning words directly related to the way you want to use that language in an actual conversation. Goals would help you identify which aspect of the language you want to focus on and hit first.
  • Goals provide a way to measure your progress, which helps improve your motivation to learn more - It would take a long time to learn and master a foregn language, and it would be frustrating to pour a lot of time and effort into something that doesn't seem to payoff. Your goal will determine what you should be accomplishing for a certain period of time. And if you accomplish your set goal, it will motivate you more in moving forward and accomplishing more, thus learning a new language.

How to Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Setting SMART goals. Source: Pexels

S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. If you want to have structure and clarity with your goals, then you better plan out how to achieve them by using S.M.A.R.T. It might take some time to figure this out but in the long run, your goal would flow more smoothly

  • Specific - Describe what you want to achieve in detail. List out the hows, whys, and under what conditions do you want to achieve them. The more and specific details you can provide, the better.
  • Measurable - Be objective as to how you will be able to measure and gauge your progress.
  • Attainable - Be realistic with your goal. Know your learning capacities and strategies. Make sure that you won't be creating unrealistic expectations for yourself.
  • Relevant - How would this goal relate to your overall long term goal? 
  • Timely - Set a specific and reasonable deadline for achieving your goal

Follow Through 

For your S.M.A.R.T goal/s to be effective, you need to consult and check on them every now and then so that you will be able to check you're on track and in line with your set goal. This would help you identify what to tackle next and make you feel good about the progress that you are making. 

However, if your goals no longer serve you well, you can always tweak it or change a bit in your goal. This will all depend on how fast you are able to learn the language. Just stay motivated and enthusiastic in learning the new language that you want then you'll be proud of what you will achieve no matter how small or big it is.

Keep Your Language Learning Goals Realistic

The key to language learning is being realistic. Not only with your goals, but as well as with the process of you learning that new language. Knowing yourself and your strengths and weaknesses in learning is vital. Knowing how you learn, would help you determine a way for you to achieve the level of fluency that you want in a period of time. 

Also having a practical approach in learning a new language would be a plus. For example, if you have friends who speak the language, you may ask help from them in practicing what you have learned. Most especially if they are native speakers of that language, they can show you how you would use the words that you have learned in sentences and conversations. 

Learning a new language really is challenging. However, setting a S.M.A.R.T goal would help you monitor your progress and help you set a time and process on how you would achieve your goal. Setting a solid goal before starting to learn a new language would help your catapult yourself into learning and would motivate you to keep going.

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Mike is a freelance writer with a passion for continuous learning, self-improvement, and helping others through education.