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So what's your New Year's resolution?

That insidious question that NO ONE wants to hear, EVER.

The millionth list, written in your best and most determined handwriting, telling yourself that you'll wake up earlier, be more organized, start learning something new, start eating healthier and start going to the gym. Been there, done that, right? For most people, this new year's motivation lasts a few weeks, maybe a month, and then life happens and they go right back to always feeling rushed, busy and with no time for anything they really enjoy doing. Why? As I already said, mostly because life happens, but also because perhaps setting too many important goals all at once is counterproductive. You can't become Wonder Woman or Superman in just a few weeks, right? You're probably thinking, "okay Claire, sure, but this isn't a self-help blog so...", so let me get to the point:

as a teacher, I see people make this same mistake with their language learning, ultimately setting themselves up for failure or disappointment.

So, just like all those self-help blogs that say to set small, reachable goals for your year, my advice for wherever you are in your language journey, be it at the beginning or not, is to set micro goals, and only a few at a time. Once you achieve these micro goals, set a few more, and then a few more. This will keep you motivated and will hopefully help you to avoid the overwhelming sense of doom and failure when you're not speaking like the Queen by the 31st of January.

To give you a few examples of what I mean by micro-goals, here are a few I've collected from students over the years:

I will watch or listen to something in English for 20 minutes a week.
I will write down 10 new vocabulary words a week, and review my list for 5 minutes every day.
I will read 1 chapter of my English book every week.
I will review 10 irregular past tense verbs per week.

You see? No crazy, "I will be fluent in English after 10 lessons", or "I will memorize all the phrasal verbs in a month", because those are unreachable goals that will set you up for failure. So, for this New Year, think about where you are on your language journey and where you'd like to be, but if you set any goals, make them small, realistic, and talk to someone else about them to hold yourself accountable - a friend, your partner or your English teacher!

And don't forget the most important thing of all: don't beat yourself up if you can't always meet even your little goals. Life happens, and the important thing is to just keep trying!

  • Been there, done that: used to express past experience of or overfamiliarity with something.

  • To hold someone accountable: to consider someone responsible for something.

  • To beat yourself up: to blame or criticize yourself, usually in a way that is unfair or unnecessary.


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