Christmas is over, leftovers are finished (just about) and it is time to start getting back into the usual routine that will await in the new year. Most people think the week between Christmas and New Year is a little strange but I really like it. For me it is the perfect time to rest, relax and recentre myself before going full steam ahead on January 1st. Everyone is so busy these days that I think it’s really good to reflect on things and plan for the year ahead.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to be more confident. I intended this as a general improvement I wanted to make in my daily life, while also having a positive impact on my language learning and writing. It wasn’t easy but I can definitely see some progress. One of my biggest struggles was recording myself speaking languages I was learning and posting them online. I always found it really helpful but because I felt so self-conscious I would always make excuses to avoid it. I may not have posted as often as I would like but I managed to finally overcome my “stage fright” which will be a massive help with my language learning in the future.
Another benefit I have found is having more confidence in myself and my abilities. When I started learning Spanish with Baselang I quickly realised that my ability to produce the language, and have a conversation with my tutor, was more related to my self confidence in just doing it rather than having a large amount of vocabulary or understanding of grammar. After a couple of weeks I was able to have a fairly good conversation about my interests and dreams, even with only a basic understanding of the language to work with. This has then filtered down into all the languages that I speak. As I focused back on Italian I have been having more regular Skype calls with my Italian friend and noticed a massive improvement in my spoken fluency. I haven’t learnt lots of new words, or practiced more than before, but I am producing the language a lot more easily. That is all due to being more confident and less afraid to make mistakes. I make mistakes in English everyday, some times not even being able string a sentence together, so why should I be so worried about being perfect in my new language?
One great piece of advice I was given this year was that when you are presenting yourself (speaking to a crowd, writing an article…), you are the only one that knows how nervous and self conscious you are… so don’t tell them that. By telling people about your nerves you are bursting the bubble of credibility you are trying to create. Having this credibility helps people to believe, and stay interested, in what you are saying. Why would they listen to you if you tell them you don’t know what you are doing?
Although this is fantastic advice I am already applying to my writing, language learning and daily life, I think it is important that I share my doubts and struggles with you all. I have often read articles online and found myself thinking that they are some sort of language magician that can just learn a language by picking up a book or opening their mouth. It is easy to forget that most people have spent lots of time and energy to have these achievements and made many mistakes along the way. We are also all very different people and learn in different ways so it isn’t productive to constantly compare myself to everyone else. I’m not perfect, I haven’t learnt a language in 3 months (yet), but I am slowly, and steadily, winning the race and achieving my goals. I hope that through reading some of my ramblings, struggles and triumphs, you are inspired to try your hand at languages, go travelling or whichever particular dream you have. I can do anything I put my mind to and so can you!
Personally, this year has been really tough. There are always ups and downs but it felt that the downs were a little overwhelming at times. That is why I am focusing more on the achievements I have made rather than those that I didn’t get around to. Looking back over all the positive will help me stay motivated and energised to work hard again next year. And my achievements this year have been pretty great… If I do say so myself. I re-learnt German, learnt a brand new language (Spanish) and had some amazing adventures along the way; our Bavarian Road Trip being the grandest.
Now it is time to think ahead to 2018 and tell you about my plans. Following my work on goal setting and language trackers this year I have a much better idea of how to set an effective goal. So I am going to try and be a lot more ambitious than ever before. Without any further ado, next year I am aiming to…
Pass the C1 Exam in Italian
I am scared and excited for this in almost equal measure. To reach an advanced level in a foreign language has always been a dream of mine and the time finally feels right to make that step.
Full disclosure, the last time I took a language exam was for my German GCSE in school and I didn’t do particularly well at it then. But after 5 years of language studying under my belt I feel like I have the confidence and skills to tackle this challenge and prove to myself that it can be done. I have been stuck on the intermediate plateau for too long and I want to climb those steps to the realm of advanced speakers. Andiamo! (Let’s go!)
The exam is held twice a year so I have the choice between June and December to take the plunge. My current plan is to take the B2 exam in June and then progress to the C1 in December. This will give me a bit of practice with the exam and show me if I am progressing quickly enough to take the C1 at the end of the year.
I am very excited to put my focus back into the language that helped me find my passion for languages and push it further than I ever have before.
The goal is set and now it is time to take a step each day towards it. What do you guys think? Think I can do it?
Let me know what your goal for next year is in the comments. It doesn’t have to be language related, just a goal you will be working towards over the next 12 months. Let’s all support each other in dreaming big, working hard and (most importantly of all) having lots of fun.
Stay tuned for my first 2018 Clear the List post on New Year’s day where I will set out my first micro language goals for the year.
Ciao for now!