Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Improve your English with SMART Goals



Last year I posted an article about how ESL students can achieve their goals more successfully.

Today, as a new year AND a new term begin for many of you, I want to re-post that article because I think many of you could really benefit from reading it. 

You CAN be successful.  BUT, you need to be very clear about to WHAT specific goal you want to achieve, how realistic it is and how you actually plan to do it.  This article can help you start start the process. 

Reaching Goals the SMART Way

If I asked you what your goals are for this term, many of you would say: " I want to improve my English."  Others would try to be a little more specific and say, " I want  to be more fluent."  or I want to improve my grammar." 

What do these  vague  goals actually mean?  How do you know how to achieve them, or when you have actually achieved them?  


So... what's the answer?

It's important for you to have a dream, a destination you want to reach.  However, if you truly want to reach that destination,  you can't just hope it will happen by saying you want to improve. You need real strategies  that will help you get what you want. 

Instead of having vague, undefined goals, you need to set realistic targets for yourself - targets you can actually hit or reach.  

Business experts and psychologists have proven that setting SMART goals will help you get to your destination much more efficiently and effectively. They will also allow you to measure and see the progress you have made.

The word SMART is an  acronym for the words: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC AND TIMELY. 

'Watch the following video on SMART goals. The speaker has an accent, so, play the video several times and listen carefully.
;

VIDEO # 2: SMART GOALS for language learning  



So what does this all mean?

One way to think about  SMART GOALS is to think of them as a series of smaller,  easy to accomplish action steps towards achieving your bigger goal. 

If you use this method, you are more likely to move one step closer to your final goal instead of always being disappointed with yourself and your progress. You are also more likely to develop the self-discipline to do the required work, and the belief that you can eventually achieve your bigger goal.


S= Specific

  • Make your goal(s) specific, not general. 
  • What do you want to accomplish? Saying you want to improve your English grammar is general. It doesn't really mean anything because you don't really know what you really want, or how to measure it. 
  • On the other hand, if you are an advanced level student, start with something like " I want to be able to write with only a few verb tense mistakes by the end of the term,  or I want to understand and use prepositions properly 80% of the time."   
  • Don't say you want to improve your communication skills.Try something like this: I want to be able to comfortably carry on a ten minute conversation with a stranger. 

M=Measurable. 

  • Make your goals measurable.  For example, if you want to make fewer verb tense errors in your writing, start working towards that goal by learning which tenses to use in your writing. 
  • Start proofreading and editing  your writing. Finally, count the  number of verb tense errors your teacher has marked. Are you making fewer errors each time? Don't give up after one or two tries. Keep doing this over a period of time, and measure the improvement. 
  • Are you getting closer to your goal? If you do reach your goal- extend the goal,or develop another one.
A= Attainable:
  • Make sure you can achieve your goal within a realistic amount of time. 
  • Don't set too many at the same time. For example, if you are not comfortable speaking English out of class, don't think you will be fluent and comfortable at the end of three months. Instead, decide that you want to be comfortable speaking in a few non-survival situations.  Then, make a plan and stick to it.
  •  If you never speak English outside of class, decide to join a church, a club, a meet-up group, or a sports team. Do this regularly, and as often as possible. Participate, become engaged rather than sitting back and letting others do the talking. Become as comfortable as you can with that particular group. 
  • After a few weeks, try to determine if your comfort level has increased. 
  • Continue measuring it. Are you now using your English spontaneously with strangers, at work?
R= Realistic or Relevant 

  • Make sure you goal is relevant to your needs. 
  • Focus on areas you are weak in  rather than on stronger skills.  For example, if your  pronunciation is OK,  leave it alone. 
  •  Decide what you DO need to work on now. How about your vocabulary? Do you still use simple words like bad, good nice, interesting, have, be, and do instead of better words that show you are not a beginner.  
  • Determine the  kind of vocabulary you want to be able to actively use correctly in three months. 
  • Make sure these words are useful ones for your life - NOT  the kind you will only use once on a TOEFL test. Then, make a plan as to how you intend to accomplish this. Make your plan specific, measurable and realistic.
T= Time Bound (Creating Deadlines)
  • Set a time frame, or deadline within which you want to achieve your small goals.
  •  Remember. There is no magic. Your English will not be perfect in three months. It takes time. 
  • But, you CAN make fewer mistakes in your writing and speaking. You CAN improve your ability to listen to the news, or understand more complicated instructions at work. You CAN  start feeling more comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone and speaking to English speakers. 


YOUR TURN : 

Think about how some of these strategies could be  used to help you set "real" goals for different aspects of your English learning. 

Think of some specific goals YOU would like to achieve this term.  Follow the guidelines above to make them specific, measurable, attainable or achievable, realistic and time bound.l   

Then, think about some of the steps involved in setting and most importantly keeping SMART GOALS.

Some of the steps include choosing your goal(s). writing them down, assessing them and getting specific, creating a plan and executing it by developing  habits and making changes  in your life to  make time for your actions, staying motivated, tracking your progress and being accountable. But, virtstk  

  What do YOU think about this?    All comments and suggestions are welcome. 

 To leave a  comment, click on the  blue word comment or no comments.  


8 comments:

  1. Hi everyone,

    Great blog, great post! I have a blog that shows this issue from learner's point of view. I my latest entry I wrote about some methods that show the pronunciation of English words in written form. At the same time, I talk about the wall that was built in my brain as a consequence of my first English teacher. Later, other teachers were able to demolish this hindering wall. I try to con-nect different methods with my personal experiences.
    So the challenge of English pronunciation and spelling….

    http://challengeoflearningusenglish.blogspot.hu/2014/01/the-challenge-of-english-pronunciation.html

    Bye-bye,

    Attila

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there,

    Anyone interested in learning english please follow this link,
    https://facebook.antavo.com/Dyl/B/A fantastic opportunity to win a 2-week English course in Manchester (including accommodation) with Excite English. Must be from EU.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice post you have posted most of the people have still confusion in tense they don’t know whether they are speaking error free English or not. Now-a-days people are facing a lot of problem at the time of speaking and writing English. Basically office employees whenever they are writing some e-mails or documents they are not sure that whether their written things are error free or not. One day while browsing net i got a English grammar checker tool which is very helpful where we can know our spelling errors very easily and it also free.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Many thanks for such useful tips. Time to get to get to work then :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Loved your latest post. As I'm here thought I'd share this really promising Kickstarter project for all you language learners out there, have a look, I've just pledged for a language course on there :)

    kickstarter.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think that setting goals is important in whatever you want to achieve. And as you said, you need to be realistic and set realistic goals. If your goal is to learn a new language and be fluent in 30 days - it's not achievable and you will be disappointed and most probably give up. However, if you say, for example, that you will learn 5 new words a week, then it is quite easy to do and when you achieve it it will motivate you to work harder :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is any materials available ?
    this site may also be useful to u
    Spoken English Classes in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  8. Guys.
    Am searching for good spoken English class in Chennai. Saw this page Top 10 Spoken English training centres in chennai on net. Is this good one.?

    ReplyDelete

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