Getting ready for a trip abroad? Studying to communicate with family or community members? Fascinated with a particular language? Whatever the reason, becoming multilingual is an absolutely incredible journey! And wherever you are in your journey, chances are you're always on the lookout for inspiration to help you reevaluate your goals and keep you driving to the next level.
Here's a few questions that can help you evaluate your ability and cement your language learning goals:
1. Why are you learning the language? This seems like a bit of an obvious question, but so much of the "why" determines what you'll focus your study on. Whether it's for work, travel or home life- learn the vocabulary for the situations where you'll need to use it. Want to learn for that fabulous French cooking class you're planning on taking? Focus heavily on cooking words! Learning Chinese to communicate with your in-laws? Focus on the vocabulary you'll need to tell your mother-in-law all about the kids. Do you work in healthcare and have a lot of Spanish-speaking patients? Focus on the medical terminology necessary for your field. General textbooks aren't going to be perfectly tailored to your individual language needs. So, ask yourself exactly what you need to learn to communicate in specific situations today, tomorrow and the next day and plan your study around your life!
2. Who do you intend to communicate with? Many language learners select a language and start going full steam ahead without really considering exactly who they need to communicate with. Widely spoken languages like Mandarin, French or Spanish vary in vocabulary, grammatical structures and pronunciation depending upon the country, region or culture where they're spoken. If you've decided to learn French, do you intend on communicating with speakers from Paris, Haiti, Geneva, Cote d'Ivoire, Quebec or Reunion? French has differences in each of these places, and as a beginner or intermediate learner, it may be tricky to adapt your French on the fly. If you're planning a trip to Cameroon, look for language study materials that will teach you French as it's spoken in Cameroon, not just the default Parisian French that most are taught.
3. Speaking, Listening, Reading or Writing? Language learning is a challenge, but when we get something down, that awesome feeling that comes from it can really motivate us to keep studying! That being said, it can be easy to shy away from our weakest areas- the skills that take the most work and what we probably need to be studying most. If you've been avoiding a tough language skill and want to motivate yourself to dive in, consider leaning on the support of a skilled tutor or friend to help you out!
4. How much time during the day do you want to set aside for language study? How many words/grammar structures/phrases do you want to learn each day or week? Every one is learning languages at their own pace- it's all in the journey! Really understanding how much time you want to put aside each day to learn will help you pace yourself without getting burnt out or bored. If you need to speed up, try adding components to your language study like changing the language on your devices, listening to podcasts such as News in Slow French, and scheduling conversation sessions with native speakers. If you need to slow down, relax and take a while to study the aspects of the language that are most enjoyable to you for a few weeks!
5. And finally, are you having fun? Learning a language is so rewarding, but if you're not having fun, it's going to be a bit more difficult to retain what you already know and get excited about learning more. Smart Canary has card games in English, French, Spanish and Chinese to help get you and your family and friends excited about learning your target language, all while having a great time!
Hopefully, these questions have helped you to refocus your existing language learning goals and to make some new ones! We'd love to hear all about it. Share with us in the comments section about the language you're learning and what steps your taking to further your study!