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05 January 2024

Setting a New Year’s Resolution to Learn a Language

new year 2024 resolution image

The baubles are safely packed away and the last mince pie has been eaten. Christmas is well and truly over. You turn your attention to the prospect of a new year – and what you want to improve in 2024. Perhaps the usual weight loss aims and the familiar vague promise to ‘get fit’ are on your wish list. But how about choosing a resolution this year that will be fun, sociable and open doors to new experiences and work opportunities? How about choosing to learn a new language?

In this article, we share some tried and tested tips for setting and sticking to a new year’s resolution to learn a language.

Keeping it Real

You have probably heard the catchy tip about setting SMART goals – making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (we explain more about that here). When it comes to learning a language, the two most important points are making your goal specific and achievable. Imagine you make it your goal to be able to speak conversational French in six months, and you decide to do this by committing to one lesson a week. Does that sound achievable to you? Some people may find that comfortingly achievable, while others may see the goal as challenging in the extreme.

Everyone is different, so your goals need to fit with what you can make work. If you aim too high, you may set yourself up for disappointment if you struggle to stick to your resolution. Many people give up when their goal seems too far away. You may find it easier to set a few smaller goals rather than one big one, as our next point explains…

Looking on the Bright Side

When it comes to staying motivated, remember that the carrot is always more effective than the stick at encouraging you to move forward! Plan to reward yourself after you have completed a certain amount of work or studied for a certain number of hours. For example, you could treat yourself to a snack inspired by the language you are learning (such as a Portuguese pasteis de nata, or a slice of German apple strudel) after each fortnight of lessons, or every 50 new words.

Rewarding yourself along the way helps you realise and measure your progress, and becomes a form of self-encouragement. Achieving these smaller goals improves your confidence. Learning a language takes time, so celebrate the small victories along the way so that the journey is just as meaningful as your end goal of proficiency.

Finding Support

Achieving goals is easier with peer support. Telling a couple of friends that you plan to learn a new language this year makes you more likely to stick with your resolution, as you become accountable to them as well as yourself. Ask them to support you by testing you on new vocabulary, and listen to music and watch films together in your chosen new language. If you are learning in a class in-person or online, take advantage of being able to practise with your classmates and give each other valuable feedback. Perhaps you could set up a social outing once a month with your classmates to practise conversation in a park, café or pub after the lesson.

If you find that you are struggling with a particular part of your learning, your peers can offer advice and support, and be your cheerleaders if you feel as if you are losing momentum. Achieving your language goals will be far easier – and much more fun – with the support of your friends and classmates.

Overcoming Obstacles

It is extremely important to focus on the positive aspects of sticking with your resolution to learn a new language. However, to give yourself the best chance of success, try to foresee obstacles and consider in advance how to overcome them. Perhaps you know that your concentration plummets in the late afternoons, but that is when your language lesson is. Overcome this obstacle by eating an energy-boosting snack just before your lesson. Then, practise your language learning at your peak energy time – perhaps listening to a foreign language podcast or radio station in the morning if your brain is at its best then, or doing assignments in the evening if you are a night owl. Play to your strengths!

Maybe you suspect that your obstacle might be that oh-so-familiar enemy to achieving goals: procrastination. If you know you tend to procrastinate, minimise distractions by putting your phone on silent or into airplane mode – or even leave it in another room while you practise. Set an alarm for the time when you want to get back to language learning and start straight away.

 

Here at Simon and Simon, we want to support you every step of the way in your endeavours to learn a new language. Contact us today to take that resolute first step, and we will take you through to proficiency!

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