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September 2019

Setting Smart Study Goals

Improve productivity and motivation

Learning a language can be compared to training for a marathon; it takes steady, incremental work to see big progress. With the time commitment and mental endurance required, it’s no wonder so many students simply quit learning. Because the path to fluency can seem so unending, it’s vital to set smart study goals to keep your progress on track. Not only will this help you stay in the race, it will also motivate you to study better.

What is your end goal, anyway?

There are many reasons to learn a new language, and each reason offers various optimal strategies for study. For example, if you’re studying a language to go on a trip, your end goal is closer than, say, for a person who strives for fluency. Your study strategy will differ as well, as you’d be more inclined to study travel-related vocabulary, while the latter individual would require a more well-rounded education.

Fluency itself can be subjective, so, if that’s your end goal, you should define what “fluent” means to you. For some people, it means they’re able to converse with locals about everyday things with relative ease. For perfectionists, it may mean being able to hold complex conversations and to speak intelligently almost as if they were a native speaker. Of course, one of the two is not as demanding as the other.

Build yourself a timeline

While language study is ultimately a lifelong pursuit, you should still create a timeline for yourself to gauge your progress. For example, if you have a trip planned for the country of your target language, the day you leave for your trip can be the study deadline. You can think of your trip as the exam. Even an arbitrary timeline is helpful because it gives you a date of completion, so you can feel like you’re working toward something that doesn’t stretch off into infinity. Of course, you should set new goals and a new timeline after each one is achieved. This gives you a moment to evaluate your progress and to change study strategies if necessary.

Give yourself tangible achievements

Tied with the timeline is the necessity to give yourself defined achievements, preferably ones you can physically touch. “I’m going to study a language today,” is vague. “I’m going to memorise the words on 100 flash cards by Friday” is far more beneficial. Giving yourself tangible achievements helps make the learning real, and it makes the tracking of your progress far easier. The building of defined goals is also a good exercise in determining what you want to study, why you want to study it, and how best you should proceed.

Compete with a friend

There’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition to light a fire under your bum. If you have a friend studying the language with you, you could form a small competition to see who can more successfully learn the material. Innocuous activities like using flash cards for memory games can help make learning fun without making anyone feel bad. If competition isn’t your thing, you could also use meetings as an opportunity to help each other out, evaluate your weaknesses, and provide tips to one another.

How do you stay motivated while studying? Do you use timelines or goals to help you progress? Let us know on the telc English Facebook Page and be sure to “like” telc English for more articles on language learning tips!