Learning English is like going a road trip (a long trip somewhere in a car). You don’t get in your car, start driving and hope that you will eventually arrive somewhere! You need a destination and a plan on how to get there.
You need a goal.
A goal is something that you are trying to do or something that you want to achieve.
“I want to learn English” is a great dream, but it’s like saying “I want to go to the United States.” Where specifically do you want to go? How are you going to get there? What do you want to do when you get there?
If you want to achieve something, you will achieve it faster when you define what you want to do and then create a plan to help you do it. You will also stay motivated because you know where you are going.
You will achieve your goals faster if your goals are S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how you can create S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you improve your English faster.
“I want to speak English like a native speaker” is a big goal. Where do you start? There is so much to learn!
What do you really need English for? What do you want to do?
Imagine this: You wake up tomorrow morning and you are fluent in English. You can speak English like a native speaker. What do you do? What are you going to use English for? What do you talk about?
That’s your goal. That’s your destination. That’s the outcome or result that you want.
(It’s OK if you can’t answer this question. It’s OK if you need to think about it for a while.)
Here are some suggestions:
I want to learn English because I want to …
live and work in an English-speaking country
visit an English-speaking city for work or for fun
watch English movies or TV shows
read a book or a magazine
understand your coworkers on the phone
get a better job at an international company
pass a test
give a speech or presentation
How will you get there? You need a plan.
Focus on Outcomes Let’s say that you want to learn English because you want to visit New York City. Make a list of things you need to know in English to enjoy your trip to New York City. What are you going to do in NYC?
check into a hotel
take a taxi or public transportation from the airport to your hotel
order a meal in a restaurant
try on clothes in a store
You will learn English faster if you focus on outcomes, or results, and learn sentences that you can use in these specific situations. Learning how to use the future continuous tense or relative clauses will not help you order a meal in a restaurant. You learn how to order a meal in a restaurant by learning sentences you can use to order a meal in a restaurant.
Learning sentences you can use in specific conversations is more effective than learning grammar rules.
“I want to order a meal in a restaurant” is a specific goal. It’s an outcome.
How can you learn how to order a meal in a restaurant? Break down your goal into smaller mini-goals that you can focus on one at a time.
What English do you need to know to order a meal in a restaurant? You need to know how to read a menu in English. How can you learn to read a menu? Start with food that you know.