How To Set Achievable Language Learning Goals: Step-By-Step Guide
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I want you to remember that you shouldn’t be too strict with your language learning goals. Language learning is an activity you have to dedicate some time to, concentrate on, and be consistent. In addition, you have to stay strong and motivated throughout the whole process.
This article will help you set up smaller and more specific language learning goals to stay motivated and eventually gain the language skills you want. I’ll encourage you to learn the language day by day and week by week, setting up smaller goals. Then, you’ll be able to achieve these goals, which will empower you to keep learning.
In the end, I’ll give you a hint on how much time you’ll need to reach a certain language level.
Quick Guide To Set Language Learning Goals
- Set small language learning goals
- Set specific language learning goals
- Use the SMART formula
- Write your goals into Language Travel Notebook
- Use Language Calendar to keep up with your goals
Set Up Specific & Smaller Language Learning Goals
Let’s say you are going to travel to Spain in 3 months. You have these 3 months to learn some Spanish before you set off. Don’t say that you’ll learn Spanish in 3 months to communicate with locals and various places. You’ll feel pressured and stressed because you set up too excessive, long-term learning goals.
Learning a language (to fluency) in 3 months isn’t a realistic goal. If you are very busy and tell yourself such a sentence, you’ll probably feel stressed and eventually won’t make it. It might discourage you because you will feel like you didn’t achieve learning Spanish within 3 months. And in the worst scenario, you might leave it all behind.
You need to be specific, and your language learning goals have to be realistic. This way, you’ll follow the plan and see results in achieving these learning goals at the end of the journey.
Language Learning Goals: Examples
A specific goal, in this case, would be as follows. You have 3 months to learn some Spanish before you travel to Spain. Think about what you would like to learn. Imagine the specific situations in which you want to communicate once you are in Spain.
You may wish to speak at the airport or just want to understand people and signs to know where the luggage check-in is, where to find the gate, and how to claim your luggage. Or you might want to order some food in Spanish.
Think about specific situations in which you want to speak the language. And don’t be too strict with yourself. You have 3 months. So tell yourself that you’ll learn 1 topic each week or two weeks. It all depends on your preferences and the time you have available.
I have come up with various situations where you can speak and practice your language skills once you travel. Check them in my article about how to learn a language by yourself. Choose one situation and define specific goals. Then write these specific goals into your language travel notebook.
SMART Language Learning Goals
Setting up language learning goals is an essential start to your language learning journey. You can also relate it to the SMART concept that many businesses use to set up their goals. You can do the same with your language learning goals. SMART goals for learning a language will help you get closer and gain the language skills you want. So what are the SMART goals? SMART stands for:
S: Specific M: Measurable A: Achievable R: Realistic T: Timely
Now, I encourage you to formulate your language learning goals. Think about what you want to achieve and how much time you can dedicate to it. Keep in mind that the goal has to be realistic and achievable.
Let’s take this example. Suppose we are traveling to Spain in 3 months. My language learning goals, in this case, can be:
- I’ll learn food vocabulary and how to order some food in the market in Spain in 2 weeks
- Learn vocabulary for the airport – how to check-in luggage, vocabulary necessary to travel on a plane, vocabulary that stands on a plane ticket in 1 week
- I’ll learn vocabulary related to accommodation, greet the receptionist, ask for a room key, hotel/hostel rooms, and amenities in 1 week.
Analyze Your Language Learning Goals
Now, let’s analyze whether these language learning goals are specific enough to achieve them. We’ll use the SMART formula for that.
1.Ask yourself whether each of those goals is specific.
Yes, each goal works with a specific topic or situation you’ll face when traveling – food vocabulary, airport vocabulary, accommodation vocabulary.
2.Ask yourself whether these goals are measurable.
Your language learning goals, in this case, are also measurable because you can measure your success if you manage to learn the specific vocabulary within 1 month. Then you’ll jump onto the next topic.
3.Ask yourself whether each of those goals is achievable.
This is an individual process, and you have to set up goals you can achieve at the end of the month. I know I’ll be able to achieve learning food vocabulary in a month. In this case, my language learning goals are achievable.
4.Ask yourself whether each of those goals is realistic.
Again, be realistic. If you know you don’t have that much time, rather say you’ll dedicate 2 months to learning food vocabulary. Take your time, be realistic with the goals.
5.Ask yourself whether each of those goals is timely.
It’s closely related to the previous one. Set up a specific time you’ll dedicate to the learning process. My language learning calendar will help you with it. In this case, we gave ourselves 1 month to learn vocabulary within each topic.
Use Language Travel Notebook & Take Action
I encourage you to set up your specific language learning goals right now. Then, take a pen and paper, write your goals down and then analyze each of them using this SMART formula, as I explained above.
Once you have your goals defined, don’t forget to write them down in your language travel notebook.
If you aren’t sure how to use your language travel notebook, you can learn about it in my separate article.
We’ll break the situations/topics you want to learn into weeks and days to be even more specific. I’ve created a calendar for you to do so. This calendar is for 1 week. You can write what you’ll learn on each day of that week. You can just focus on learning within one week (in the topic/situation you chose) and follow the calendar.
Calendar For Your Language Learning Goals
The language calendar is for you to walk you through the whole process. It’ll keep you motivated and consistent.
When you set up more specific goals for language learning, the process gets much easier. You’ll be organized and pursue these short-term language learning goals. Once you achieve them, you’ll feel accomplished and pass to the next one. After a while, you’ll have reached many smaller language learning goals, which will make you feel like you have learned a lot already. And that’s true, you have.
You can write down when you would like to learn a specific topic, how long you will learn it, and how much time you dedicate to it each day.
Get LANGUAGE LEARNING CALENDAR
Small language learning goals for each day in a week
Into each day, write down clear sentences of what you want to reach like.
Let’s suppose that this week’s topic we want to learn is an airport and the 3 situations we wrote as goals. So we break it down and write what we’ll learn and focus on each day:
Monday: Airport – learning vocabulary to check-in luggage and talk to the airport assistant.
Tuesday: Airport – learning vocabulary on the plane ticket
Wednesday: Airport – learning vocabulary to understand a flight attendant in the plane
Thursday: Listening to a podcast talking about the airport and air travel
Friday: Creating my own sentences I would say at the airport
Saturday: Reading a few pages from a book (best some topic related to the airport)
Sunday: Have a lesson with somebody on iTalki, ask your tutor to practice airport vocabulary and practice speaking with him
My Language Learning Method In A Nutshell:
Organize yourself. Let’s say you’ve set up the following language learning goal:
- I will learn vocabulary for the airport in 1 week: check-in luggage, vocabulary necessary to travel on a plane, words on a plane ticket.
So you have 1 week to learn how to communicate and understand everything at the airport.
1. First 3 Days – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Now, in the first 3 days of the week, you can focus on finding the vocabulary you’ll need to communicate in each of those small situations at the airport. Translate the vocabulary and write it down into your language travel notebook. Then, each day, dedicate some time to learning the vocabulary to feel comfortable with it.
2.Thursday, Friday, Saturday
In the next 3 days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of that week, you can start practicing and understand all the vocabulary in context. To do so, you can practice various language skills using many resources. Use my effective strategies to practice the vocabulary you have learned, and understand it in a context. Head to my language resources and find the best ones to practice your language now.
Eventually, on Sunday of the week, practice the vocabulary by talking to yourself or finding a person with whom you can talk and practice your speaking skills.
Don’t hesitate and find your tutor today so you can start practicing your speaking already in the first week of learning the language. The best platform to find tutors is definitely iTalki. I use it myself, and it has helped me to improve my speaking in all languages dramatically.
This is my language learning method, which I summarized in my article on how to learn a language for travel. In this article, I explain step by step what you need to do to learn a language for travel, have fun and achieve your goals.
And if you are reading it, I have a special offer for you today. If you sign up, you’ll receive 10$ credit after your first lesson. This offer is only available for Voices of Travel language learners. So check it out now by clicking the button below.
Practice speaking on iTalki & get your 10$ credit
Stay Organized & Be Consistent
I want to encourage you to stay organized and consistent. Use the calendar to see what you have already learned and what’s next. Then, whenever you feel discouraged, just look at the calendar, and it’ll tell you straight away where you are and what to learn next. This way, you’ll achieve what you want.
I also describe how important it is to have the motivation to learn a language. You can write your motivation and reasons to learn the language in your language travel notebook. There is a section ‘My Motivation’ to do so.
Eventually, once you reach your smaller goals in the language learning process, you can practice in real life when you travel to that country. You’ll see how much fun it is. It’ll also motivate you to learn further. Once you come back from your travels, you can focus on other situations you want to communicate. It’ll also give you a reason to come to that country again to practice the language in other situations.
If you find it difficult to stick to the learning, read my article about how to achieve goals when learning languages.
Language Levels & Time To Reach Them
Let’s reflect on what is a realistic time in which you can achieve a certain language level.
I like to divide language skills into 4 different levels.
The first and second language level is where we are heading when we learn a language for travel. The third and fourth levels are more advanced, where you achieve fluency in the language.
1. Language Level
The first language level is the level where you learn vocabulary to get familiar with the language and to be able to understand a little bit once you are in that country. You start with learning vocabulary. Once you travel, you’ll understand the signs and catch some words locals will tell you. You can only say the words and create sentences that you learned at this level. However, it’s still difficult for you to have a proper conversation with somebody.
The focus is on a smaller conversation. You can normally predict what the person answers (like small dialogues on the market, in a restaurant ordering food, check-in at your accommodation).
You’ll need about 3 to 6 months to achieve this level, depending on how many topics you want to learn. Again, it also highly depends on how much time you’ll eventually dedicate to your language learning process, but 3 – 6 months are usually enough.
2. Language Level
Once you achieve the second language level, you’ll feel more confident in that language. You won’t only memorize the vocabulary and sentences in your head but also understand them in a context. You’ll have more time to improve your language skills, and using vocabulary gets more flexible. At this level, you’ll be able to create a basic conversation with somebody. It’ll get much easier to understand locals.
This is the language level we are aiming to achieve as travelers. It’s just enough to reach this level if you want to feel more confident speaking and know basic vocabulary for everyday life in that country. At this level, it’s all right to get stuck and to be slow at speaking.
To achieve this level, count 6 to 10 months if you really want to be confident in many aspects of everyday life in the country.
3. Language Level
The third language level is already the B1 level, where you know more words, and you can vary them in a conversation. You feel even more confident in speaking. You’ll be more fluent and fast in speaking. Understanding someone will be easier, and you’ll be flexible in replying (having more vocabulary and synonyms in your mind).
You’ll already be familiar enough with the language at this stage and won’t forget it.
With the first two levels, you’ll still forget a lot of the language if you don’t use it often.
To achieve this level, count with a minimum of 1 year to 15 months.
So here on Voices of Travel, I am walking you through the basic process of learning a language for travel and achieving the second level. This means speaking to locals, understanding, and having a basic conversation. But I highly encourage you to keep learning for up to 15 months to feel more confident in the language and not forget it. Who wants to learn a language to forget it, later on, right?
4. Language Level
This level is already fluent enough to have an interesting conversation. You’ll be able to express your feelings in that language and communicate in any situation. At this point, you don’t have any difficulties understanding people and will naturally reply to them. You’ll have a lot of vocabulary to use.
2 years are necessary to reach the point when you feel confident with the language and reach the fourth level.
These are the four language levels that will also help you set up your specific language learning goals.
More Tips For Language Learning
So now, take the calendar, pen, and paper and start formulating your language learning goals. First, think about why you want to learn the language, in what situations you want to understand and communicate.
Then create specific goals and check if they are appropriate according to the SMART formula.
After, write these specific goals into your language travel notebook. Break these goals into even smaller ones to learn each part one week and write them into your language learning calendar.
Then get round to the vocabulary learning.
Let me know what language learning goals you have set up in the comments below. Feel free to write me if you have questions or you already see results in achieving these specific language learning goals.
Excited to have you here on this language learning journey.