Setting Goals

Motivation to start

Remember that overwhelming feeling I mentioned in my first post?  Well, it’s the real deal.  We can get that feeling whenever we start a new endeavor and wow, it is hard to overcome sometimes.  I believe that a huge reason for having this feeling is because we don’t even know where to start when deciding to learn something new.  A lot of times we are overeager to reach the level of expert, without appreciating the directions and steps we need to gradually take  to get there.  When learning to ride a bike, our goal is straightforward and clear: ride baby ride!  As we grow though, the choices we make about what we learn take on many aspects and it is up to us to decide what we want to get out of this learning experience.  If you are considered ambitious at school, those who say so, will have that perception because you seem to know what you are working and studying for.  Goals that we strive for, whether this is a particular job title or some success at work, can be easy for some to set.  Those that have that ambition seem to always get ahead and do well but really it is the goals they set for themselves that they are striving to accomplish and reach that makes all that possible.

Language learning

Goal setting is crucial when learning a language.  We should always ask ourselves what we want to learn this language for?  Why is it important to us? Once we have chosen those initial general goals the next step is to set incremental goals for ourselves so that we can see how much we improve.  With language learning it’s not enough to just say ” I want to improve my vocabulary!”, students should focus on specific vocabulary they want to learn.  Maybe that’s some topic vocabulary like business English or it could be a category of words like “phrasal verbs”.  This type of goal setting allows students to take those steps in the right direction in reaching the ultimate goal of improving vocabulary.

It is worth remembering, that if you are a youngster and you are learning because your parents want you to get a better job, this isn’t the right kind of goal setting.  Goals need to be set by students themselves so that they are meaningful.  If they are, then a student OWNS that goal, it is theirs and that definitely gives them a hell of a lot of motivation in accomplishing it.

When learning English I always tell my private students, business clients, or class to think about why they are here and what they want to achieve.  I ask them to make a list and then save it on the first page of their fresh notebooks, so that later in the year we can refer back to it and check together where we are at.  My students seem to always forget a few months later about that first page, but I’m there to remind them of it. For my private students I will pull that paper out of my bag and show it to them.  Usually, more often then not they are pretty surprised!  Sometimes they have forgotten all about it.  Teachers should be alert to when their students seem to lose their focus or motivation and that is when they can make their move, go into their bag of tricks and pull out the GOALS that were set by the students themselves. BOOM!

It is quite amazing how effective this can be, whether it is a learning environment or even a working environment.  I read a book recently titled: The 1-minute Manager, and encountered a similar theme there on how important this is.  We should not underestimate the importance or the results it can bring.  Since it is the weekend I recommend you get yourself an alcoholic beverage and let that thought brew for a while. 🙂

Welcoming any comments on this boys and girls.

Happy drinking, I mean, LEARNING!

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