“I am trying to change some of my language learning habits, and I have ideas, but somehow I don’t put them into action.”
Have a weekly planning time. I recommend that you follow these 3 principles:
- Keep it very simple. Don’t try to do too much at first.
- Keep it regular. It should be at the same time each week.
- Keep it together. Have a special notebook for this purpose.
Think of a day each week when you have 30 minutes that you can sit without distractions. In fact, sometimes you may only need 20 minutes to do these 4 steps.
Step 1) Write 1-3 goals for the week. There is nothing wrong with only writing one explicit goal.
Step 2) Make a basic written schedule outlining when you will work on those goals. Break down the task into manageable steps. Be as specific as you can. Here are some examples of goals for the purpose of activating words you’ve learned before.
- Review chapters 7-9 and write down 10 words I want to put in my active vocabulary
- Speak out loud by myself using each word in two sentences (20 sentences total).
- Use at least five of these words this week in conversation with others.
Here are some other types of goals you can set.
- I will talk to three people for 5 minutes about __my home town .
- I will write down a list of 10 words that are related to __my home town .
- I will practice speaking with a tape recorder on __my home town for 15 minutes.
- I will try to visit (name) on (day) for (20-30 minutes) and will talk about __my home town .
Step 3) Evaluate your past week. Did you meet your goals? Were your goals too big or unrealistic? If you did this again, what would you change? Etc.
Step 4) Write something in your language journal.
A language journal is an activity that can be unrelated to the goal-setting outlined above, or it can be part of the whole process. That is, whether you set goals or not, a language learning journal can be very valuable. In fact, I would guess that journaling would be the most important part of your weekly planning and reflection. You may even want to write in your journal more often than once a week.
Your journal should include your personal feelings about your language learning. Write about what you liked and disliked about your language adventures this week. When did you feel frustrated? Did you have any breakthroughs? What are you learning about yourself? Your learning preferences? Your language learning strategies? Is there anything new you might want to try some day?
For example, “I met only half of my goals. Maybe I need to spend less time on Youtube. Am I being lazy or do I just love Youtube too much? Maybe I can try to take my iPad on my next visit and show Ahmad my favorite Youtube videos. That puppy on the skateboard just cracks me up!”