New Year’s Resolution
With the beginning of a new year, most of us take a look at what we have done or achieved during the past twelve months and set up or think about new goals for the upcoming months. This usually applies to several aspects of our lives and learning a new language or improving our language skills is certainly a good new year’s resolution.
To make it work, though, we need more than just wishful thinking: we need specific steps and perseverance so by the end of this new year we can find ourselves actively working on learning (and not realizing we stopped trying by February) and enjoying its great benefits.
If we are already enrolled in a language course, have done so in the past and want to resume, or it is a possibility just now, we need to decide about starting and continuing with a consistent frequency this year.
Therefore, it helps to look at it objectively and actually make time to learn by programming it in our calendars by deciding how many days and hours we can dedicate to study (ideally it should be at least 30 minutes daily besides the lessons with the teacher). To help maintain the frequency needed, we need to think about the best time to study: perhaps when waking up, before tackling the workday, or maybe at lunchtime or even at the end of the day, after work or after dinner.
Expectations are also a big factor that can actually push us forward or set us back. Many students expect to learn quickly and to speak fluently in a short period of time and just by attending class. At Be Bilingual, we can certainly expect to speak from the beginning, understanding that we start with simple questions and answers, improving our vocabulary as we build up our skills every day. The clue is that: everyday, not every class only.
Hence, when setting expectations, we must look at them both ways: what to expect from the instructor and the money invested and what to expect from ourselves and how much time and effort we are willing to put into the equation.
For that, sticking to a calendar and a routine definitely helps to keep us on track to achieve our goal. We should also think about the topics we enjoy learning, reading or talking about, research information available in the target language, and consider the recommendations made by teachers about level appropriate materials. By acquiring this habit of practice, we can enjoy the pleasure of learning something interesting in the new language and everyday there will be something to look forward to. Our progress will be substantially better than by just attending class.
At some point we should also set a time to evaluate this progress. It could be at the end of a lesson package, after a certain number of classes or perhaps every trimester. Analyzing what is working well, what is not, which activities keep us motivated and which ones drain our energy is important as adult learners. We should also honestly analyze if we are practicing oral and listening skills beyond class. If not, we should do something proactive about it, like reaching out to someone who speaks the language in the community, joining a practice group or searching for other students online.
With this level of involvement and proactivity, December 2022 will come and we will have greatly improved our skills while really enjoying our learning time and will definitely feel accomplished.