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Isn’t it frustrating to understand everything that people are saying around you but feel like you cannot participate in the conversation because you believe your language ability isn’t good enough?
Well it’s time to do something about it. By that I am not suggesting for you to go and enroll in an intensive 20 hours a week English course (although the extra practice certainly would be helpful). It’s time to take control of your learning.
“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself”
— Chinese Proverb
Keeping yourself going
It’s helpful for you to have a good teacher, but what is even more helpful is to have drive. You need to have a strong desire to learn, and you need to set firm rules for yourself about how you will practice and when.
The first step in achieving this is to set firm goals for yourself (it’s a good time of the year to be thinking about this right now, but you can do this whenever you want). Imagine yourself in January 2019. How is your English?
Why goal setting is difficult
Most people try to avoid goal setting because it never seems to work for them. The reality is, most people are so careless about their goals that they don’t even bother following or checking up on them once they are set.
The secret to effective goal setting is to be systematic.
But what exactly does it mean to be systematic? It means to have a set of rules and boundaries for yourself that you do not break, and if you do, you punish yourself or make up for it next time.
For example, if you plan to study for 30 minutes this evening but feel tired and spend your time looking at Instagram instead, you have to spend an additional 30 minutes studying the next time.
Sounds simple, right? The problem is, most people don’t have discipline while studying. They say “tomorrow, tomorrow”, and tomorrow becomes next week.
So, in addition to punishing yourself for breaking your rules, you need to reward yourself for keeping to your study plan. 10 times in a row and you get a piece of tiramisu!
Finding your direction
Clearly there is more to discipline than just rewarding or punishing yourself. You need to have a clear sense of purpose. Why are you learning the language?
I am learning English because…
Is it difficult to find a reason? Try defining it in terms of ability. Think about what you want to achieve with your language skills.
Don’t just read ahead. Stop here and really think about what you want.