Goal setting is an important facet of learning languages. There are multiple types of goals when it comes to language learning: short-term to long-term, process goals, performance goals. Effective goals motivate and inspire us, increase success rate, focus us, and reduce frustration. An effective goal setting process helps us understand where we currently are, helps us choose where we want to go, and assess the best steps to take to reach our ultimate language goals.
A long–term goal is something you want to do in the future. Long–term goals require time and planning and generally take longer than 12-months to achieve.
A standard long-term goal for language learning is becoming advanced in a target language.
To measure this goal: Advanced means you can speak a wide range of topics and in complete and complex sentences. You can also speak in a clear and organized way and even argue with others in that language. You can flirt, you can understand the main points of a subject.
A short-term goal is something you want to achieve in under a year. It could be as soon as 2 weeks from now, or 3 months, 9 months, etc.
A standard short-term goal is being able to describe yourself and talk about your family. Another example could be taking a beginner exam and passing it with a 90%.
To measure this goal, you can have a friend listen to you describe yourself and or them. You can pass that exam and officially know you’re better than a beginner.
Process goals are the behaviors or the strategies that will help you perform well and increase your chances of achieving your desired outcome goals.
Example process goals:
- I will study X Language for 30 minutes a day for 1 month.
- I will learn 5 new vocabulary every day for 2 weeks.
- I will learn 1 new grammar point each day for 1 month.
- I will watch and actively listen to 3 episodes in X Language each week.
Notice that all goals, whether they are outcome, process, or performance goals, need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Performance goals set the standards at which we will perform our process goals.
Example performance goals:
- By studying X Language for 30 minutes a day, I will feel more confident speaking.
- By learning 3 new vocabulary words a day, I will be able to talk about what I do in a day.
- By watching and actively listening to 3 episodes in my target language, I will improve my listening skills and understand when people talk to me.
When setting goals, you should to visualize and choose the desired outcome. After that, you should focus on the process and your performance. Language learning is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. You will get frustrated; however, when you complete goals, you will feel amazing. 🙂