Always Giving Up on Learning a New Language? Start Setting Goals!

Confession time: how many times have you thrown in the towel on learning a new language? Perhaps you’ve felt like it’s just for a few privileged folks.

But here’s the simple truth nobody told you: all you need is a clear goal to strive for! Try the tips we’re about to share, and watch the results unfold!

Well, first of all, congratulations! Your decision was the best one: learning a new language is an exciting and rewarding endeavor! 

People who gave it up, like you did, just needed some guidance to set effective language learning goals! Just that!

Setting goals will ensure motivation, focus, and ultimately success in becoming proficient in the language of your choice. ALL fluent people around the world had set goals before!

You doubt it?!

The importance of setting goals

Setting clear and realistic goals is the cornerstone of successful language learning. Goals provide direction, motivation, and a sense of purpose to your studies. Without them, the language learning journey can become overwhelming and aimless. 

Imagine you hop into an Uber and say, ‘I don’t know where to go… let’s go anywhere. 

You will go nowhere. 

Imagine embarking on a road trip without a map—you might get somewhere, but you’re likely to take a few wrong turns and miss out on some incredible sights along the way.

Goals serve as your roadmap, helping you navigate the vast landscape of a new language. They break down the learning process into manageable steps, making the journey more enjoyable and less daunting. Let’s delve into how you can set effective language learning goals.

So, where are you trying to go, anyway?

Before you start jotting down specific language learning goals, take a moment to reflect on why you want to learn the language in the first place. Understanding your purpose will not only give your goals more significance but also help you tailor them to your unique needs and aspirations.

For example, if your goal is to learn Spanish for an upcoming trip to Spain, your focus may be on conversational skills, travel-specific vocabulary, and cultural nuances. On the other hand, if you’re learning Mandarin for business purposes, your goals might include mastering business communication, understanding industry-specific terms, and perhaps even achieving a certain level of proficiency in reading and writing.

Ok, so, now take a pencil and a piece of paper (or use your keyboard) and decide: where do you want to go with the language you dream of mastering? Let’s give you a hand…

Set SMART goals

Now that you have a clear purpose, it’s time to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This framework ensures that your goals are well-defined and increases the likelihood of success.

Let’s break down each element of a SMART goal:

  • Specific

Clearly state what you want to achieve. Instead of a vague goal like “become fluent in French,” specify “hold a five-minute conversation with a native French speaker.” 

After reading this article full of tips, set a conversation goal and find a partner on the Speaky app: what about setting a 30-minute conversation? or setting a simple conversation about a topic you know well?

  • Measurable

Include concrete criteria to track your progress. For instance, “learn 50 new French words each week” is measurable and allows you to gauge your improvement.

What is the magic behind numbers when setting your goal?

  1. When you set numerical goals, it becomes easier to track how far you’ve come. For example, saying “learn 50 new words this week” is more measurable than a vague goal like “improve vocabulary.”
  2. Instead of a broad objective like “improve pronunciation,” you can set a goal like “practice pronunciation for 15 minutes every day.” This specificity guides your efforts and keeps you focused.
  3. Achieving small, measurable goals creates a sense of accomplishment, boosting motivation. For instance, reaching a goal of learning 100 phrases can be a small win that encourages you to keep going.
  4. Saying “learn 500 words in a month” provides a clear timeframe for your goal, helping you manage your time effectively and preventing procrastination.
  5. If your goal is to watch 10 hours of movies in your target language each month, you can easily check if you’ve met that target and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  6. If you’ve been learning 20 new words a week and find it manageable, you might decide to increase the challenge to 30 words a week to stimulate continued growth.
  7. If you set a goal to read 5 pages a day in your target language but find it too demanding, you can modify it to 3 pages without losing the clarity of your objective.

Cool,  isn’t it?! 

  • Achievable

Ensure your goals are realistic and attainable. Setting an overly ambitious goal, such as “master Japanese in a month,” might lead to frustration and burnout. Instead, opt for “complete a beginner Japanese course in three months.”

Avoid comparison with anybody else – each one has his own rhythm and his own goals. There are so many people that learn fast but never achieve fluency for several reasons – keep going!

  • Relevant

Align your goals with your overall purpose. If your aim is business-related, make sure your language learning goals prioritize skills relevant to professional contexts.

You may feel a bit lost with the diversity of material on the internet (there are materials for all kind of goals), so take a look at the (huge) available material on the internet with our help. [link]

  • Time-bound

Set deadlines for your goals to create a sense of urgency. For example, “watch one Spanish movie without subtitles in two months” establishes a clear timeframe. There are good reasons to do that:

  1. Knowing that you have a deadline can encourage you to stay focused and dedicated to your language learning efforts. It adds a sense of purpose and helps you track your progress over time.
  2. Regularly assessing your advancement can help you stay on course and make necessary adjustments to meet your goals within the specified timeframe.
  3. It’s easier to procrastinate or lose focus if there’s no sense of urgency. Having a time frame encourages discipline and helps you maintain a consistent learning routine.
  4. Knowing that you have a limited time to achieve your language learning goals can encourage you to find more efficient and effective learning methods. This might lead you to prioritize certain aspects of the language, focus on high-frequency vocabulary, or adopt strategies that yield quicker results.
  5. Time frame also helps in setting realistic expectations. It’s important to be realistic about how much progress you can make in a given period. This can prevent frustration and burnout, as you’ll have a clearer understanding of what is achievable within the specified timeframe.
  6. Having a deadline allows you to celebrate your achievements when you reach milestones along the way. This positive reinforcement can further motivate you to continue working towards your language learning goals.
  7. Life circumstances may change, and unexpected challenges may arise. Being aware of the time frame allows you to adjust your goals as needed without losing sight of your overall objective.

You never thought about all these benefits before, right?

Break down your goals

Language learning can be overwhelming if you approach it as a monolithic task. Break down your overarching goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals. This step-by-step approach makes your journey more achievable and allows you to celebrate small victories along the way.

For instance, if your ultimate goal is to hold a conversation in Japanese, your sub-goals might include:

  • Learn basic greetings and expressions in the first week.
  • Acquire vocabulary related to everyday activities in the second week.
  • Practice introducing yourself and asking simple questions in the third week.
  • By dividing your goals into bite-sized tasks, you make steady progress and maintain motivation throughout your language learning adventure.

Incorporate different skills

Language learning involves multiple skills, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. To develop a well-rounded proficiency, ensure your goals address each of these aspects.

For example:

  1. Listening

Set a goal to listen to a podcast or watch a video in your target language for a specific duration each day. You can start with as little as 10 minutes – being able to do this task will fill you with joy!

  1. Speaking

Commit to engaging in language exchange sessions or speaking with a language partner regularly. On the Speaky app you and your partner are free to decide how long to keep a conversation; maybe it’s better to start with several short conversations in a week than having just one long conversation. 

  1. Reading

Aim to finish a short article or story in your target language every week. The internet is full of news, but if you find it still too difficult, try News in Levels. 

Your goal can be reading all you can for 15 minutes, or reading a 200-word article no matter how long it takes.

  1. Writing

Start a daily journal in the language you’re learning, gradually increasing the complexity of your entries. Many students underrate this skill probably because they can’t imagine its benefits for building a correct structure of the spoken language and increasing vocabulary.

Balancing these skills not only enhances your overall language abilities but also keeps your learning experience dynamic and interesting.

Embrace consistency over intensity

Consistency is key in language learning. It’s more effective to study for a short duration daily than to cram a large amount of material in a single, lengthy session. Set goals that prioritize regular, manageable study sessions to build a sustainable learning habit.

For instance:

  • Instead of planning a marathon study session on the weekend, commit to studying for 30 minutes every day.
  • Make flashcards of new vocabulary and review them during short breaks throughout the day.
  • Incorporate language learning into your routine, such as listening to language podcasts during your commute or practicing vocabulary before bedtime.
  • Consistent, daily effort is more likely to yield positive results and prevent burnout compared to sporadic, intense study sessions.

Utilize technology and resources

Take advantage of the plethora of language learning resources and technology available to enhance your studies. Incorporate apps, online courses, language exchange platforms, and other tools into your goals to make learning more interactive and enjoyable.

For example:

  • Set a goal to complete a specific number of lessons on a language learning app each week.
  • Join online language communities to engage with native speakers and fellow learners.
  • Use language learning platforms that offer interactive exercises and real-life simulations to practice your skills.
  • By integrating technology into your goals, you can make your language learning experience more engaging and tailored to your preferences.

Stay flexible and adjust your goals

While setting clear goals is crucial, it’s equally important to remain flexible. Life is unpredictable, and unforeseen circumstances may affect your study routine. It’s better to set less demanding goals than goals that take you to your limit!

Then, if you find that a goal is too challenging or not challenging enough, don’t hesitate to adjust it – you’re not competing with anyone, remember?

For instance:

  • If you’re progressing faster than expected, consider accelerating your timeline or adding more ambitious sub-goals.
  • If external factors make it challenging to meet a particular goal, adjust the deadline or modify the scope to make it more realistic.
  • Adaptability is a key trait in successful language learners. Being open to adjusting your goals ensures that your language learning journey remains enjoyable and manageable.

To sum up

Embarking on a language learning journey is an exciting and fulfilling adventure and setting clear and achievable goals is your roadmap to success!

You now know the most practical ways to set goals to never give up again:

  • define your purpose
  • embrace the SMART goal framework
  • break down your objectives into manageable tasks
  • balance different language skills
  • prioritize consistency
  • leverage technology
  • remain flexible in your approach 

The brain reacts to your achieved goals with a positive feeling, increasing motivation, keeping you focused and lowering anxiety.

We at Speaky are here rooting for you – this time, it’s going to work out. 

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