Goals are essential for language learning

Goals are incredibly important for any language-learner as having good goals will keep us going especially in times when we hit roadblocks. Roadblocks can come in many forms like: boredom, lack of time, difficult concepts, negativity, self-doubt, etc. If we make sure to write good short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals then the road to mastering a language will be easier and we can be assured that it will keep you going even when you’re ready to give up.

How do you go about setting up your goals? First, you must ask yourself two questions:

  • Why do I want to learn Euskara? – Some people want to learn a language because of an upcoming trip, others for work, and some want to learn because they want simply like the way the language sounds. Whatever your reason is, you must make sure that you know what it is, because there will come a time when things get tough and you will ask yourself “Why the hell am I learning this language?” and you will need to come up with a good retort. It is always easier to give up on something in which you don’t have a good enough reason to do.
  • How far do I want to go? – Some might be content to simply be able to get directions to a monument or museum whereas others might want to be able to live out the rest of their lives using their chosen language and to be able to handle it like a native-speaker. The amount of work and time that you need to put into learning a language is closely related to how far you want to go. It also affects the materials that you will need to use.

After answering those two questions, you will be able to come up with a few goals. To further give you guys some ideas, let me share with you a few (as I have many) of my own  goals for learning Euskara:

Short Term Goals

  • Send my friend Maite a postcard with a few lines in Euskara.
  • Read a basic children’s book.

Intermediate Goals

  • Write a journal entry in Euskara.
  • Be able to hold basic conversations beyond the usual “Hi. Hello. How are you?”

Long Term Goals

  • Have a passionate discussion about football (Aupa Athletic!) with a fan of a rival team.
  • Read a full-length novel.

I also suggest that you not only write down your goals but post them somewhere where you can see them every day. I have my list of goals tacked up on my pushpin board (next to my calendar) so I wake up every morning and I can use it to give me the necessary push I need especially when I find myself wanting to just relax and watch telly or sleep instead of study.

Also, don’t be afraid to revise your goals. Sometimes, you might find that the goal you initially put down isn’t working (we all tend to set unattainable goals sometimes) so instead of getting disappointed, just make the necessary adjustments.

In order for goals to be considered “good”, keep the following in mind:

  • Goals are better when they are concreteThis is not to say that abstract goals can’t be good but they are easier to stick to and identify when they are concrete. Make sure that your goal can be measured. For example, saying “Put in a little more studying time” is quite abstract in that it is hard to tell what a little more should be. So to make it concrete, we can say, “Put in 1 hour more of study time”.
  • Goals need to be measurableHow will you know if you are on the right path if you can’t measure your progress? In one of my intermediate goals, I want to be able to write a journal entry in Euskara and I am able to measure that goal by testing it out to see if I can manage to formulate the sentences I need in order to express myself. If I struggle too much, then I know that I’m not quite there yet.
  • Goals must be challenging but attainableIf you make your goals too easy then there really isn’t much joy when you attain it and if you make them unattainable then you will end up frustrated. Goals should challenge you to go further than what you thought you could reach. This is not to say that we can’t celebrate little victories or that we can’t dream big but make sure that the bulk of your goals are challenging and attainable.
  • Goals reached should be celebratedSometimes the completion of the goal is a reward in itself but I feel that some of the tougher goals should be rewarded, celebrated, and shared with friends. Whenever I complete some of my tougher goals, I usually celebrate by buying myself a little something that is also related to the particular language that I am learning (i.e. a CD, a book, even a meal at a Basque restaurant!). I also make sure to let my friends know about it, especially those who support me in my goals so they can share my victories with me.

So, I hope this has inspired some of you out there to go ahead and write down your goals. Please feel free to share some with us in the comments!

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