After ringing in the New Year like the true party animal that I am (watching Netflix and reviewing Italian flashcards), I like to take stock of the year gone by and how I want to approach the next one. Clear the List is the perfect way to do that and start the year on the right foot. A new year means new goals and with a very exciting year ahead it is more important than ever… but more on that in a moment.
Just in case this is your first #clearthelist post with me, allow me to welcome you and tell you what is going on. Clear the List is a monthly group for sharing your language learning goals, for support and accountability, hosted by Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.
As the first Clear the List of 2019 I like to look back over the year that has gone, to review and reflect over everything that has happened, and to see what I can revise or adapt to make even more progress in the year ahead.
Where did 2018 go?
What a whirlwind last year was. Blink and it’s gone.
For me, 2018 was a year full of changes. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Sometimes you learn the most from the hard times and they push you to make changes to your life that will alter the course of your future forever. I experienced my turning point this August when I took the plunge. Left my previous job and became a full time online English teacher. Sharing my passion for languages with hundreds of students. I have never looked back. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am so much happier for it.
That being said, there was a considerable part of the year where no language learning happened. Sometimes, life just gets in the way and you have to focus on what is important; health and family. After this short break I did get some new perspective and a new lease of life that allowed me to make more progress in the last 6 months than I have in the last few years. Pushing my Italian level from B1 to B2. It isn’t quite the C1 level I was hoping for at the start of the year but it is a very positive improvement.
I also have a new outlook and approach to language learning, which contributed to my success, that I will be taking with me and honing over the next 12 months. More focus and more productivity… or that is the plan anyway.
Another very positive new addition to my language learning tool belt was my language journal. I have absolutely loved adding to it. Using all the creativity I can manage to learn something new and have fun. Fun being one of the biggest motivators for me to stay consistent.
I also had the pleasure of being a guest star on the amazing language podcast The Fluent Show, talking all about language journals. It was an absolute blast! And, I have received countless messages about how it has inspired them to start journaling which is amazing.
What’s the plan for 2019?
This year I have decided to change things up and split the year in two. So I won’t have one annual goal, but two. The reason for that is the exciting new I mentioned earlier. Drum roll please… I am getting married. Yep… she is finally making an honest man of me. And, to celebrate our upcoming nuptials we have booked a two week honeymoon to the south of Italy. I absolutely cannot wait! Naples, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Puglia and Sicily. It’s going to be incredible.
So in 6 months time I will be a married man and I want to feel confident enough in conversation to impress the natives and make the most out of this opportunity. We have never had a two week holiday before so I am excited for the extended break, and language immersion.
You will notice that I use the word “confident” and not “fluent” here. That is a deliberate choice. I know I will still be making mistakes in 6 months time but I want to feel confident and comfortable speaking in any travel situation without worrying that my Italian skills are letting me down. Anything goes as long as I keep the conversation moving.
How am I going to achieve it?
The new approach I mentioned is ensuring my goal focuses on the big four. Speaking, listening, read and writing. However, it won’t be as simple as that. I will be putting more energy into the conversation skills (speaking and listening) with the other two there to supplement my learning. To give me vocabulary and phrases I can use when I am having conversation. In this situation, all the skills are essential but not equally important, and I want my goals to reflect that.
Another big thing for me is daily contact. I need to be in contact with the language everyday to avoid the guilt of not “studying”. What I have learnt from my daily habits of Duolingo, Clozemaster and Lingq, is that the daily goal needs to be quick and easy to fit in everyday. That way, it isn’t a struggle and let’s me just have fun with the language. Then I can add more detailed goals for when I have more time available as a bonus.
The Goal Breakdown
As we all learnt from the wisdom of the Cha Cha Slide… let’s break it down now y’all.
Following the tried and tested methods of the SMART goals, it is really important to be Achievable and Realisitic. To do this I have estimated the time of each activity to check it is possible for me to fit into my schedule. That way if I exceed these estimates then I am really winning and it is another thing to review next month that I can adjust (up or down) if necessary. How efficient of me!
Daily – Recording myself speaking on my Instagram story or to my language partner (<15 mins)
Weekly – One lesson or language exchange (1 hour)
Daily – Binge listening the radio, Netflix or Youtube. No notes, just pure enjoyment. Even counts when I am singing along in the shower (30 mins)
Weekly – Transcription or shadowing of any audio or video. Notes galore and all the replays I can handle. (1 hour)
Daily – Lingq, Duolingo and Clozemaster. Maintain those streaks! (15 mins)
Weekly – Clearing my Lingq flashcards and practicing the words I am learning. Got to use or lose it! (1 hour)
Daily – Post on Instagram everyday (15 mins)
Weekly – Write in my bullet journal (1 hour)
Based on my estimates the minimum time I am expecting to study is around 11 hours a week. Not a bad start if I do say so myself.
It’s Tracker time!
My trackers have become a real staple of my Clear the List posts and this one is no different. Last month I tested out a slight change with vocabulary and illustrations for each day that I would highlight if I get daily contact. This worked so well, and was so fun to make, that I have done the same for January with a winter theme. I even included multiple words for adjectives, nouns and verbs for the same idea. Three birds with one stone… Score!
And what are you goals this month? Let me know in the comments below.
Ciao for now!