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© Dervilla Fastner, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions: SMART English Language Learning Goals

January 4, 2017

You are learning English as a foreign language and struggling to get to the next level? January is the ideal time to review your progress.

 

Have you reached your learning goals? Are you still focussed and motivated? If not, try to find out why you haven’t 

moved ahead this semester?

 

Maybe your goals were not clear enough, were unachievable or you just didn’t put in the effort? If that’s the case, it is time to become an autonomous English language learner, taking responsibility for your own English learning.

 

Develop and plan SMART goals which will keep you focussed and motivated on your English language learning journey.

 

 

Specific  

 

Set yourself specific and well-defined goals. ‘I want to improve my English grammar’ is NOT a specific goal. Examples of specific goals are:

 

  • To be able to form and use the simple past correctly

  • Expand my English job-related vocabulary, e.g.100 new words

  • Be able to take part more actively in our yearly international HR conference

  • To be able to understand and write simple emails relating to quality issues

  • To write clear and professional emails minimising grammatical errors

  • To pass the Cambridge First Certificate Exam

  • To give a presentation in English on our department’s visions for the next five years 

 

It is an excellent idea to write down your English goals for the new semester. According to a survey carried out by Harvard MBA students, writing down goals helps students stay focussed and motivated, and the probability of accomplishing your goals is considerably higher compared to those who only have language goals or dreams in their minds. 

 

If you are part of an English language course, discuss your language learning goals in class. Your peers and, especially your English trainer can offer you support and advice. It is essential for your English language learning success to communicate clear and transparent goals. 

 

Measurable

 

Not all goals are easily measurable, and it is often difficult to establish if you now speak English more fluently or if your email writing skills have improved. Is it your goal is to learn 100 new work-related vocabulary? Ideally you monitor your own progress and in addition, take 

opportunities to use newly learnt vocabulary both in class and out of class. Your English trainer will ensure you are using them in the right context.  

 

Importantly, ask your English trainer for regular feedback and also bring your emails and reports into class to have them proofread. Remember, your written correspondence reflects your professionalism and that of your company. 

 

Furthermore, doing a test run in class before giving a presentation in English can be very beneficial, and it’s a great way of finding out if you are on track before the real presentation. 

 

Attainable

 

Set yourself achievable gaols that you are able to reach within your deadline. To be able to speak English like a native speaker is for the majority unachievable. You also need to know how you will accomplish your goals. Decide how you will learn and practice new vocabulary. Will you use vocabulary cards, a vocabulary app or write lists? 

 

If your goals are too ambitious or time is currently a limited resource, you won't accomplish your learning goals unless you re-define them. 

 

In short, if you want to be able to write better emails, it is prerequisite to learn appropriate email vocabulary and phrases, practice writing emails related to your context and have them corrected regularly. 

 

Relevant 

 

Set yourself learning goals that are closely connected to your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. Are your English learning needs mainly connected to your job role, tasks and responsibilities? Frequently ask yourself if your goals are still relevant. It is easier to stay motivated by continuously reviewing the relevancy of your goals.  

 

A qualified and experienced language trainer will tailor the course contents to suit your requirements.  

 

Time Management and Time Limit

 

Plan your language learning time. Decide when and how much time you are going to spend learning English. Develop a timeline and set a deadline for both mini goals and long term goals, e.g. "Learn 100 new work-related vocabulary by April 30th, 2017."

 

 

Get started immediately and plan your SMART language learning goals as your NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION.   

 

 

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