New year, new you—or so your optimistic New Year's resolutions would have you believe.
The start of the new year may seem like a great time to set goals and make fresh promises to yourself—especially after a year like this one, with all of its uncertainty, setbacks and frustrations. With an estimated 80% of people failing to achieve their resolutions, however, most within the first month and a half, the beginning of the year can also be a time full of disappointment and dejection. So what to do if you're one of the many who fail to succeed?
There are countless strategies that have been shown to make completing resolutions more feasible, and many of them start with being kinder to yourself about your progress. Learning a language—an objectively quantifiable goal—may seem like a risky aim, but the beautiful thing about language learning is that with every single new word, you're a world ahead of where you were before.
Chances are you're already far more capable of learning than you realize, but if you're struggling to follow through on those resolutions, check out our tips for keeping up with your intentions straight through to December 2021!
As good as 'become fluent in French' might sound on your list of resolutions, it's far too hard to quantify. There's always room for improvement—even for those who have been speaking a studying a language for many years—and with many people (wrongly) equating fluency with speaking perfectly, there's little chance of success with this kind of goal.
Instead, give yourself a goal you can easily measure, like 'be able to read a novel in French by December' or 'have one conversation a week in English'.
This is true of many goals, but especially when it comes to learning a new language. The language learning plateau is real, and it has killed the motivation of many a student. Hitting a plateau can be especially discouraging when you're working hard toward a specific goal, but if and when it happens, simply dust yourself off, remind yourself that it's a natural part of the learning process and keep going!
Goals are easier to achieve when they're undertaken with a friend, due to a combination of the enjoyment we derive from companionship and the fear we have of failing in front of others. Given that verbal communication is the key to improving fluency, language learning goals are especially conducive to being tackled with a friend. Join a class together or set reminders to check up on each other's progress—and most of all, practice, practice, practice together as much as you can!
When you first make your resolutions, it can be exciting to imagine the new-and-improved, freshly-fluent person you'll surely be by next December... but that's a long time to wait for the payoff to all of your hard work! Wouldn't it be a lot more satisfying (and encouraging) to experience little triumphs throughout the year instead?
To achieve this, set more smaller short-term goals—like 'watch an entire TV series in English, without subtitles, by February' or 'have a simple conversation with a native French speaker by April'—to give yourself something to look forward to throughout the year.
And most importantly, don't forget to have fun! Whether you're learning a new language for pleasure or out of necessity, there are ways to make the process a whole lot more enjoyable for you. So log in to Netflix, take yourself out to the karaoke bar or call up a friend, and enjoy achieving your language learning goals!