If you’re learning a language then one of the most effective ways to learn is by setting goals for yourself. Goals also allow you to track your progress. You know that you’ve made good progress when you meet a goal and that you need to pick up the pace a little when you fail. The only problem is that not just any goal will do. You need to be setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that means Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely. So your SMART goal needs to be a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goal. We’ll go into each one a little more and explain how they apply to learning a language.
What is your specific language learning goal? “Learning English” is not specific enough. It’s just far too broad. You need to be setting a more specific goal such as “I will learn 500 words” or “I will join an English speaking class”. The more you can narrow down your goal the better it is and the more chance you have of succeeding.
As well as being a specific goal it also needs to be measurable. There needs to be a number associated with it. A measurable goal is one that you can keep. Think of things like daily targets. Measurable goals also give you a great feeling of success. “500 words” is another example of a measurable goal. “500” is the measurement there.
Of course a goal needs to be an attainable goal. This just means that it has to be possible. It has to be something that you can do. The good news is that almost any goal can be attainable as you grow to achieve them. You can create more than one goal too. So don’t hesitate to make a smaller, much more attainable goal, before making a larger one. You’ll be surprised at how your capacity grows and how attainable a seemingly impossible goal has become.
A goal needs to be something that you realistically can do. It has to be something that you are willing and able to work towards. You can set a high goal with it still being realistic. The only one that determine if a goal is too far or not is yourself. It’s important to not aim too high and come up with a goal that has no basis in reality based on your current ability. If you’re a slow learner then don’t tell yourself that you’ll hold a conversation with someone in English in a few weeks. Instead focus on a smaller, attainable, realistic goal like knowing more conversational words.
The last thing that your goal needs to be is timely. This means that you need to put a time frame on it. It’s not enough to say that you are going to do something. You need to say when you will do it by. You want to learn 500 words? That’s great; but how long will it take you?
Some great examples of SMART language learning goals are “I will learn 10 words a week” or “I will learn 500 words in a month”. Remember to keep your goals Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely!