So, you have your goals and your action plan. The next step is to anticipate problems or things that will prevent you from reaching your goals, so that you can do something about them.
There is an English proverb that says “If you need something to be done, ask a busy person”. It means that busy people can always fit in one extra thing, because they manage their time really well, better than people who wander around aimlessly, not achieveing very much. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it is really hard to fit in another task when you are already busy.
If free time is a problem that could affect your language learning, there are two things that you can do:
1. Think about yourself and how you work best. We can’t always work at the optimum times for learning, because we have other responsibilities, but out of the free time that you have, when will you be motivated to learn English? For example, I hate mornings. I can get up really early if I have to catch a flight, but getting up early to do language practice would not work for me at all. I’m a night owl!
2. See whether you have opportunities to build language learning into your existing routine and do it while you are doing other things. I used to have a 2.5 hour commute to work each day, and you can read in this article how I used that time for language learning. There are plenty of listening activities that you can do whilst you’re in the car, on the bus, cleaning the house or in the gym! There are also quick activities, such as browsing a social network in English or learning some vocabulary, that can be squeezed into the five minutes that you’re waiting for the bus or for an appointment with someone.
If your financial situation means that you can’t afford lessons, look for some less expensive alternatives. You can borrow books from the library instead of buying them, find a tandem partner with whom you can practise, look for free materials online, or join a group of other learners on Facebook. Some places have free language meet-ups as well.
As I said in an article at the beginning of the year, many language learning activities are geared to extraverts, but you can achieve the same results by doing things in a slightly different way, if big groups of language learners are not your thing. If you hate the activity, you won’t feel motivated to do it, so find language learning activities that suit your personality and needs.
It’s a fact – on some days you’ll feel full of energy to learn, and on other days you’ll think of excuses not to. That’s life. It’s a good idea to work out what makes you feel good about learning and what motivates you. It doesn’t mean you should only do these things, but they definitely help to give yourself a reward and a motivation boost.Maybe it’s an English-speaking meet-up with a friend. Maybe it’s a night in with a good book or film. Whatever it is, make time to do the things that you enjoy, so that they will motivate you to do the less enjoyable tasks.
If you have a busy house with no peace and quiet, it may be harder for you to learn. Is there somewhere that you could go for some time alone? Could you go for a walk at lunchtime and learn in a local park (in the summer of course!)? Could you put headphones on and listen to something while you’re on the train/cooking dinner? Could you find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a while?
Can you think of any other factors that will make it harder for you to achieve your goals?
Your challenge today is to make a list of potential problems and what you can do to solve them.
More from English with Kirsty
After 3rd February 2016, the whole challenge will be available as a PDF. Sign up here for your copy: