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New Year: Smart Goals

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013: It’s time to set yourself some new language learning goals.

These goals don’t have to be your typical New Year’s resolutions – let’s face it, those never last anyway. That’s because New Year’s resolutions tend to be fairly general (“I’m going to join the gym” or “I’m going to learn Italian”. To make sure you achieve your goal, it needs to be smart.

I don’t mean your goal has to be clever, SMART is an acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Take for example the goal “I’m going to learn Italian” – this is not specific (it doesn’t state how you will learn or where you will learn). It’s not measurable – what do you mean by ‘learn Italian’? It’s possibly achievable – but only when you’ve defined what level of Italian you want to achieve, making it not realistic. And it’s not timely as there is no specified period in which to learn.

A better goal would be “I will sign up for beginners Spanish classes by the end of January”. This is a specific goal – to enroll in a class. It is measurable – by the end of the month have you signed up for the class? It is achievable – you can find a class that fits around your schedule and sign up for it. It is realistic – aiming to sign up by the end of January gives you time to find a suitable class, which also makes it timely.

Once this goal has been achieved, you can set further goals for yourself. “I will attend my class every week until the end of the semester”, for example. Or “I will complete my Spanish homework every Saturday afternoon”.

Give it a try – what are your goals for the year ahead?