Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
I know Easter has just passed and it would have been more sensible to use that metaphor during the Easter weekend, but hey…I’m late!
Starting to learn a new language is an exciting time. Everything is shiny new and squeaky clean and you want to get everything right.
You imagine it’s going to be a straight run, with progress being made after every learning session you undertake….
(See a previous post about how motivation drives your language learning: How learning a language is like learning to drive. )
You head straight for the Internet to find the exact route you should take. A simple phrase like “how to learn a language” into the search engine will result in hundreds, nay, thousands of suggestions for language learning.
We are really living the Golden Age of language learning at the moment, as there are bucketfuls of useful resources on-line that can help you in your learning process.
What was that about the eggs in the basket?
The idea behind the expression (for those readers not so familiar with English expressions) is that if you are collecting eggs ever (!) and you put them all in one basket, if anything happens to that basket, such as your tripping over an angry hen on the way back to the kitchen, all the eggs will end up broken and resulting in NO eggs, and an even more furious hen.
The inference is that it would be wiser to put the eggs you collected into several baskets, in order to minimise the risk of breaking all the eggs.
This expression is widely used in English, often in reference to financial matters.
The point I’m trying to make in regard to language learning is that if you put all your eggs, i.e. All your efforts to learn, into one basket, i.e. ONE particular method or Language ‘Application’ then you might be limiting your learning process to the small screen.
The language learning process might be summarised as acquiring the sound and visual system to communicate with others by listening, speaking, reading and writing.
That just goes to show there are an awful lot of boxes to be ticked in order to reach some level of competency in a new language.
19 things you might want to do if you are learning a foreign language
When someone wants to learn a new language, as an adult, they could really mean anything between 1 to 16 of the following:
1) I want to be able to understand what the native speakers says to me.
2) I want to be able to reply to what has been said in the target language.
3) I want to be able to understand a television programme in the target. language
5) I want to be able to understand a radio programme in the target language.
6) I want to be able to read a newspaper in the target language.
7) I want to be able to read a book in the target language.
8) I want to be able to read informative brochures and pamphlets.
9) I want to be able to read the letters I receive in the target language.
10) I want to be able to understand songs being sung in the target language.
11) I want to be able to talk about myself in the target language.
12) I want to be able to ask about the other person in their native language.
13) I want to be able to talk about other people and things to that person in their native language.
14) I want to be able to say something funny in the target language.
15) I want to be able to write a note to my neighbour in their native language.
16) I want to be able to talk about my business matters in the target language.
17) I want to be able to understand what is going on around me in the target language.
18) I want to be able to talk on the phone in the target language.
19) I want to be able to understand what a native speaker says on the phone.
One method alone cannot prepare you entirely for those 19 reasons you may want to learn a second language….
So how do you really navigate through to the short-cut to tick the boxes you need to tick, in order to achieve the success you’re looking for in your language learning journey?
4 STEPS TO MAKING REALISTIC LANGUAGE LEARNING GOALS
- STEP ONE: IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
- STEP TWO: CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS (MAKE ACTION PLAN) TO MAKE THINGS PERSONAL
- STEP THREE: TAKE ACTION AND INTO BATTLE
- STEP FOUR: RE-ASSESS SITUATION AND ADJUST PLAN OF ACTION TO SUIT.
Let’s look back at the road map above to focus on each point.
- STEP ONE.
It’s important to identify your specific goals in your language learning process. Look over the 19 skills you may want to work on and make a specific note.
It’s too flimsy, vague and TOO BIG to think “I want to learn …(e.g.) Spanish!”
Be more specific and think ” I want to be able to talk about myself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.”
- STEP TWO
Now, according to your specific goal from STEP ONE, look at what your options are, specifically focusing on the skills your require.
In the example I chose; ” I want to be able to talk about myself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.”, you could look for specific programmes dealing with that subject area using personal themes.
Why learn vocabulary and expressions about Juan working in an office in Guatemala when you are Shirley from Hartlepool wanting to talk about yourself and your teenage daughters?
Make it personal! Focus on vocabulary and expressions that are true to YOU and YOUR life. Don’t waste time on Juan in Guatemala …YET!
- STEP THREE
Now’s the time for committment.
You said 12 weeks so it’s 12 weeks.
Commit on a daily basis to doing something about this language thing you have signed up for and that you would really love to achieve!
Get the ‘APP’. Buy the books. Research more words. Use on-line resources to their maximum. Listen to native speakers as much as possible. Find language buddies on-line who can help amazingly.
See how far you can go, with committment.
Prove to yourself you can do it.
- STEP FOUR
This is a very important step, not to be taken lightly! (Pun intended; sorry!)
Half-way through your designated time-scale, stop and take a look backwards and forwards.
Ask the question: Has the approach, method, ‘Application’ you have been using lived up to your expectations?
Will you be able to meet your short-term goal, as in the example above, of being able to “talk about yourself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.”?
If so then you’re on the right track. Keep steaming ahead and reach your goal. Give yourself a treat in celebration.
Show the world how you have reached the target you set out to reach.
if you feel you aren’t quite where you thought you would be after setting realistic goals, then think about how to turn things round before you get to the point of failure and lose motivation.
not you who’s failing but it may be the approach, method, etc.
There are so many different factors that enter into second language acquisition for adults that there may be several things you could change if you feel you’re getting nowhere fast.
If you feel you aren’t getting where you want to be, then if you stop and re-assess your situation NOW, you’ll be in plenty of time to get back on track and reach your goal.
You may need more time committment. You might be a more visual learner and need to WATCH the language being used in films, on television, podcasts, or something similar.
(E.g., you may even need to re-assess your time-scale and extend the goal for another 4 weeks.)
The important thing is to keep the goal in sight and strive towards it.
So this is where we get back to those eggs in that basket….
Don’t rely on ONE sole method to enable you to reach your language goals
Diversify, try different ways, styles, approaches and see what works best for you. In the end it’s all about YOUR committment, YOUR motivation, YOUR goal, and how YOU learn.
Most importantly, don’t give up!
Let me know what your short-term goals are for your language learning in the next few months. Make a comment in the box below and let me help you make realistic goals for you.
I hope this helps.