It’s nearly that day again – you know, the one with all the ones, where we start thinking about new beginnings and a new ‘us’. Of course, there’s nothing literally magical about January 1st. We can, and should, make resolutions and plans whenever we want to achieve something like learning a language.
But isn’t there just something about it that makes goal-setting feel a bit more exciting?
A good coaching friend of mine has a great attitude towards resolutions. Always advocating self-kindness, she insists on avoiding regimented ‘must do’ lists for the new year (or any other time, for that matter). Instead, she suggests creating ‘would like to do’ lists instead. They’re lists that acknowledge that, in an ideal world, we would tick every box – but our worlds aren’t always ideal.
With that in mind, we can mindfully put together lists of what we’d like to tackle, given the time and energy. One solid piece of advice to make those like to goals even likelier is to be concrete about them. Woolly, amorphous targets like ‘improve my French‘ are shaky on two fronts. Firstly, they make the goal down-negotiable on demand (‘I learnt one extra word this year‘ could cover ‘improve’!). Secondly, they’re immeasurable. You can’t track your progress towards something that isn’t defined.
It’s one reason that the CEFR language levels are so good for language resolutions. For example, “Achieve B2 in French” is defined by the competences in the official framework itself. But they’re also officially measurable, as you can aim for accreditation at those levels. “Pass a B2 French exam” is an even tighter bullseye to aim for.
We can also measure progress by effort, as well as result. An easy way to do this is to set a lesson goal. “I’ll do one French lesson every week for the whole year” is a good yardstick for time put into learning, and – you would expect – will deliver that precious improvement too.
Language Resolutions for 2024
So, putting my money where my mouth is (I promise I’m not all talk), here are my main language resolutions for the New Year – and that’s would like to do, not must do!
French – systematically work through TY French Tutor to formalise grammar knowledge
Gaelic – consolidate B1 through group classes; socialise more in Gaelic through interest groups
German – read four books in the language over the course of the year
Greek – consolidate B1 with continued weekly conversation lessons
Norwegian – consume more media in Norwegian; at least one 30-minute podcast weekly; arrange date for the Bergenstest and a tutor to work with towards it
Polish – resume actively working on language with weekly lessons, get back to B1
Swahili – consolidate A2
Swedish – hit B1 by May (Malmö 2024!); a podcast a week and completing the Duolingo Swedish course
And, of course: keep dabbling!
Wishing all Polyglossic’s visitors a very happy, healthy and successful 2024. Thanks for your encouragement and support over this and previous years – I couldn’t do it without you all!