“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Benjamin Franklin


You’ve always dreamed to learn, one two or more foreign languages. It is in your bucket list. This time you’re serious about your wish. But before buying this new online course, or a language book, have you stopped and think how are you going to make your dream come true?

Statistically, 95% of people who start a new venture never finish it. Only 5% complete what they set their mind into accomplishing.

Why does it happen?

We are social beings and as such we tend to succumb to peer pressure at times; even though it is not always obvious: there’s an innate instinct in us of belonging, and this also translates in doing what others are doing, what’s considered fashionable, the latest trend, or what can make us stand up from the crowd, or assure admiration from our peers. Most of the time, we don’t stop to evaluate what we’re getting into, we’re thinking and taking decisions in the spur of the moment and fail to evaluate the long-term commitment involved in our decisions.

95% of New Year's resolutions fail.

Lots of us have new Year’s resolutions on the first of January, because it’s what is expected – everybody does it – the most common is wanting to be fit, so we decide to start going to the gym. But, are we really committed? Have we thought this through? Will we still be willing to carry on, let’s say in three or six months down the line? Is this clashing with other priorities in our lives? These questions are never asked. We never stop to see the big picture and guess what happens? A few weeks later we start procrastinating, we find excuses for not going to the gym and soon we abandon this New year’s project. I’m sure you’ve been there too. And the same happens with language learning. Most people fail to plan adequately their language journey.


I have no doubt that you want to succeed at learning a language. The fact that you’re reading this article tells a great deal about your resolution. You want to brake the start and stop language learning cycle that you’ve been on for maybe quite a while now, and this time you want to cross the finish line, you want to be able to tick this language off your bucket list of To-Do things, this time for good. You’re in the right place, then, I’ll walk you through the steps you must take to start moving forward towards accomplishing your goals. One word of warning: there’s no quick fix, language learning takes time and dedication. It is not glamorous, it’s an activity that requires your daily attention and most importantly it involves commitment. There will be time where you feel you’re not going forward and even though, you will have to put the effort into it. You will need long-term, short-term and daily planning to ward off this nagging feeling of overwhelm that might present itself in the absence of an adequate plan.

Language learning takes time and commitment.


If you’ve been procrastinating, you should stop, because it affects your self-confidence, it increases your stress levels which can lead to all sorts of health problems. If this is your main issue, read my article: HOW TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION FOR GOOD.


How to accomplish your goal of success at language learning?


First, realise that success comes after hard work, setbacks, mistakes and plateaus. “Only the brave succeeds”.

HAVE A POSITIVE MINDSET

A positive mindset gives you more focus and clarity on what you want to accomplish. It allows you to have a clear idea of your reasons to learn a language, and help you visualise that there are no limits to what you want to accomplish. You have all you need at your disposal to fulfil your language dreams.

Ask yourself:

  • What do you want by learning a language?
  • Why is it important to you?
  • How can you achieve this?
  • How will you know that you’ve reached your goal?
  • What will happen if I learn this language? Write down as many reasons as possible why it is important, necessary, useful for you to learn it.
  • What won’t I get /happen if I learn this language?
  • What will my life be like in 5 years with the knowledge of this language?
  • Where you are now in relation to this vision you’ve just created.
  • Figure out which direction you should go to achieve your desired future.
  • Think about the advantages of becoming proficient in a foreign language, and make a list, as extensive as you wish.
  • Display your vision and goals where you can see them so that you’re reminded constantly of your language mission.

Create a vision, answer these questions.

When answering these questions, you’re creating a vision of the results you’re pursuing.


EXPECT SET BACKS

Identify the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goals.

Answer these questions:

Why have you not yet reached your goal?

What are the reasons? Be very specific.

Analyse your past experiences and find out what stopped you.

  • Did you loose motivation after a while?
  • Where you struggling to find the time for your study?
  • Did you have the right support?
  • Did you have the right resources?

What can you do now to solve these obstacles?

What action steps can you implement?

Based on your previous answers, try to find a solution to the problems you encountered in the past so that you can prevent failure this time around.

Remember that if you are motivated enough and you work hard, you will be able to make your language dream come true.


FOCUS ON DOING THE HARD WORK

When you have goals and a plan it is much more likely that you will achieve them.

Plan language activities for the day, the week, the month in advance. Consider your short-term goals, long-term goals and the pre-established deadlines that you set for yourself.

Turn your language learning into something fun that you enjoy all the way. Bear in mind that you chose to do it, you were not forced into it.

Make a list of all the things you like to do (hobbies) and include them in your language activities. For example, if you like movies, watch films in your target language. If you like fishing, listen to podcasts about fishing in your target language etc.

If possible, plan trips to the target country, read books, listen to music, watch sports in the foreign language you’re studying.


BE FLEXIBLE AND LEARN TO ADAPT

It’s impossible to control all the variables in your life. There will be time where you won’t be able to act according to plan. You’ll just have to learn to pivot, make changes, work round these circumstances. Everything will be fine if you persist and don’t give up.


VALUE YOUR EFFORT

Setting targets and making plans are good, but doing the work is more important and should be your primary focus. Pay attention on your daily effort in the knowledge that every time you study, you’re one step closer to your goal.


YOUR RESULTS SHOULD HELP YOU EVALUATE YOUR LEARNING METHOD

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the results you wanted when evaluating your weekly and monthly performance. Instead, be proud of yourself that you have executed your plan to the letter. Let your result help you evaluate how much it takes to reach your ultimate goal based on the results you’ve obtained. If, for example, you thought that you could master the language in six months studying 30 minutes a day, and based on your monthly assessment you realise that you’ve not covered all the topics you were supposed to study, you might want to reset your deadline to twelve month or study 1 hour a day instead.

DON’T BLAME ANYBODY

Don’t hold the course you bought or the tutor accountable for your lack of progress. If you blame a situation or someone else, you’re not taking accountability and you’re somehow admitting that you’re not in control. Instead, ask yourself what you could do differently to get better results and make the required changes.


DON’T EXPECT RESULTS TOO QUICKLY

If you expect quick results, you’ll be disappointed because your expectations won’t be realistic. This might lead you to abandon your language learning all together by the thinking that you won’t succeed at all. Remember that you need to invest long hours in doing the hard work without seeing any results.


If you’re serious about mastering your second language this time around, don’t think too much: plan, execute, evaluate, pivot, keep going until you reach destination.


For help on how to plan your language learning for success click on the link.