LTL DISCUSSION: getting motivated

LTL DISCUSSION: getting motivated

Using GOALS to MOTIVATE LEARNING (Read more about goal-setting HERE)

How goals and feedback can help you improve your language-learning performance:


Learning a language is a long term project, but every long-term aim is reached through a series of short-term steps. Goal-setters need to be specific about their time-frames. It is very important that you put a time limit on your learning objectives, otherwise they lack any urgency, and if they lack urgency they probably won’t get done.

What kind of time limits can goal-setters impose for language learning aims?

Long-term goals: Language learning is a long-term goal. It is also an on-going process (on-going, like, forever). In order not to become disheartened learners need to look back on how far they have actually come from time to time. After learning a language for a year, you will still be less than fluent, lost in group conversations and often misunderstood and depressed at your seeming lack of progress. Don’t worry – you’ve plateaued – and now is a good time to look back and reflect on how far you really have come (rather than on how far you still have to go!).

Short-term goals: Language learning is a step-by-step process and needs constant review and encouragement. Successful learners look for small victories. Break your learning into manageable chunks and set a timeline. For example, give yourself a month to learn couple of hundred new words or to read through a series of stories or articles. Be specific about your objectives and your timelines. You’ll feel good about yourself if after a month you know all the relevant Spanish / Malay / Korean vocabulary around a particular topic, or if you’ve read through a whole collection of short stories, poems or condensed versions of classic novels in your target language – as well as earning your living, developing a romance, painting the spare room, taking the kids to soccer and many of the other things that we do in our daily lives.

Micro-managed goals: deciding to achieve a particular task and setting a time-frame is a great start, but if you’re not constantly on top of it, time will slip away and the month will be over before you have even made a start on your list of Korean words related to food and cooking. You need a schedule, and you need to stick to it. A micro-managed goal is best achieved by dedicating specific time to your task. Use your study time as a motivator to do other things (I won’t have my morning coffee until I’ve read 3 verses of today’s Spanish poem). The short-term reward of coffee will soon be eclipsed by the real reward of having learnt something in Spanish. Micro-managed goals need to be logged in order for you to gauge your progress. Keep a wall chart to plot your PLANNED study time and a notebook to keep a log of your ACTUAL study time.

Good luck with your planning! Remember: a goal without a PLAN is really just a wish.

Post about FEEDBACK coming soon


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