So you want to learn a new language?
Nothing is more exciting than embarking on a new language learning journey. Just imagining how it can impact your travel schedule, career opportunities, or social circle can be enough to get you to jump into it feet first. But wait, stop! Before throwing oneself into a new language, I’ve found that setting good goals is the difference between getting to fluency fast and kind-of-sort-of stumbling your way through a conversation. Below, I’ve outlined the 3 questions I ask myself before I begin a new language.
Why are you learning this language?
As the first question, the answer to this one informs your answers for the next three as well. If you want to communicate with your Italian grandmother, you’ll learn different vocabulary and spend a different amount of time on language learning than someone who wants to work in Shanghai or wants to order food in Mexico. Also, this answer will be helpful to remember when you start to feel unmotivated (which always happens). Come back to this then.
What level would you like to reach?
Some people want to be able to study academically in their chosen language. Others want to carry on only simple conversations while some just want to know the basics. Your desired level is arguably the most important determent of how and when and how often you’ll study.
How much time do you have to study?
Be realistic. If you work 60+ hour weeks, maybe you’ll only have your commute to work as viable learning time. Or if you have a strict deadline to be fluent by (6 months for example), you should dedicate more time weekly. Take an honest look at your goal level and daily/weekly schedule in order to make an informed daily/weekly study commitment.
Have you set any language goals? How is your progression going? Feel free to comment below!