Deciding to learn a new language - or improve your skills in one that you have been learning in the past- is an important decision; but you need the wind in you favour if you want to sail up to the finish line.
A study plan can become an excellent ally in your road to success; and you should make sure that it contains these 5 elements.
You must set goals and tasks that are realistic.
Thinking that you will reach a C2 (upper intermediate) level in Arabic in one year starting from scratch is highly improbable no matter the hours you invest in this project every day. You would surely end up exhausted and ready to throw your language learning out of the window.
Instead, you should remain real and accurately analyse your other activities like work or university, chores like house upkeep or weekly shopping, sports activities, down time.
So, on a sheet of paper or on a time-management APP, make a grid with the day of the week (Monday to Sunday) and each day broken down into hour-long intervals.
Write down all your weekly activities in the grid. Be as specific as possible, even include the time you spend commuting. Also add all your leisure activities.
Highlight non-essential activities that you currently do but that you would be willing to stop in order to make room for a language task. Also pay attention to undertakings that could allow multitasking like running and listening to a language podcast.
And last, block out the language study time.
set realistic goals
Think of your overall energy throughout the day. Try to allocate a language activity when you are at your best and don’t feel that you must fill all of your spare time with tasks. Remember that you are in it for the long haul. Your plan should contemplate this.
Plan for different language activities that involve the four pillars of language learning - listening, speaking, reading, and writing- according to your timetable. For example, it is better to plan a listening activity in your commute: this may be a podcast in the morning when your brain is more alert and listening to songs in your target language on your way back home, when you are tired. You can read a passage or the news in your target language during your lunch break.
Practice on your own and consider working with a private tutor to help you accelerate your progress.
Have goals that are relevant to you.
A good study plan should reflect your interests. It should highlight what you are aiming at in your language learning. For example, if you are learning because you are preparing a trip to your target country, you should include more activities related to listening and speaking although the other aspects remain relevant.
Your study plan should reflect your interests
Have specific and measurable targets.
You need to have some system in place to evaluate your progress, and these should be included in your study plan.
A language tutor can oversee these evaluations as he/she will provide you with constant feedback.
Another way is to include a language proficiency exam as you climb the language learning ladder. The advantage of these is that they provide evidence of your level when applying for jobs or residency in a foreign country.
Incorporating these exams within your study plan will also motivate you as you have a specific deadline to sit for them.
Be aware that learning a language is a long journey and consistency should be your number one priority.
A robust language study plan will help you along the way. Every language learning project should be recorded on your weekly study plan as well as the time for this activity. These will help you stick with your plan as you know the exact day and time for each task.
You do not have to use the “mighty willpower” to study. On the other hand, it won’t be necessary to waste time there and then figuring out what activity you are going to do. Everything will have been decided previously.
A robust study plan can play an important part in your language learning success because it will be your number one asset in helping you staying the course on this long journey to fluency.
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