Making a plan
So, you’ve established the specific areas on which you’d like to work during the next weeks. What’s next?
In order to work out how you’re going to reach your goals, you need to be clear about the details. You have the plan – now you need the action.
So, if your plan is to read a novel in English, you need to
1. Identify which book you want to read
2. Decide whether you want to read online or a hard-copy book, then buy/borrow a copy of the book.
3. Set aside time to read the book and decide how you want to make a note of relevant new vocabulary.
If you want to work on your speaking skills, you need to identify people with whom you can speak and arrange opportunities for the speaking activities to take place – these things generally don’t happen unless you actively put yourself in a situation where you will have to speak.
If you want to be able to watch a film without subtitles, maybe you’ll decide to work up to it by first listening to podcasts, which are usually shorter.
Whatever it is, you’ll need a plan of action.
How your plan will look will depend on what kind of person you are. For some people, too much detail will make them not want to do it at all. Others get motivation from drawing up a detailed plan and having a spreadsheet to monitor activities.
I fall into the second category, and when I was doing some intensive Turkish learning, I put together a spreadsheet that listed the activities that I wanted to do in one column, and the days of the week going across the top. Activities gave me points, so the aim was to see how many points I could get each day and week by completing the various activities that I had identified. If you’d like to know a bit more about what I did to stay on track with my plans, you can read my article about staying accountable.
Finally, other people can really help you to keep to your plan of action – whether you decide to read a book with another learner and discuss it, or you arrange a series of meetings with a language tandem partner. This doesn’t mean that you have to sign up for a load of social activities – some people make faster progress on their own with only occasional input from others. It’s just that sometimes, the people around you don’t understand the highs and lows of learning a language, so it’s good to be able to share these things with people who do.
Today’s challenge is to look at the goals from yesterday and think about how exactly you’re going to make them happen. What activities will you need to do?
If you don’t stick to your plan, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe you were too tired to do anything for English one day. That’s ok, just start again the next day. Your whole plan doesn’t need to fall apart because life got in the way on one day. Of course this isn’t the case if one day turns into two days and then three – as with your initial goals, you need to make sure that your plan is realistic and you will be able to complete the tasks that you set yourself.
After 3rd February 2016, the whole challenge will be available as a PDF. Sign up here for your copy: