A new year is here, and like always, we write a list with our good resolutions. I did it too last year! I wrote down that I wanted to monitor my English for an entire year. And now, a year later, you can read in the following lines and listen to the results of my experiment in this article called “New Year’s Resolutions: One Year Later”!
I’m sure everyone, no one excluded, found themselves between December 31st and the month of January making list after list of resolutions which would give new direction to our lives. Going on a diet, working out more, detoxing from social media and catching up with college exams are just a few examples…
However, often, a decline in motivation as well as a lack of time become the main excuses as to why we get lazy and don’t pursue our goals.
Last year, at the end of the year, I wrote an article in which I launched a challenge to myself as well as to all of you, in which I expressed my desire to monitor my level of English to see how it was progressing.
Here are the things I decided to work on last year:
- Study the B2 program on my own.
- Read a set of books of increasing difficulty in English.
- Attend lessons regularly with a native teacher.
By analyzing the following points, I can say that some of the goals I set myself have been achieved with no problem, while others, not so much. However, the positive thing I would like to emphasize is that I worked consistently for an entire year.
Let’s examine the above points in more detail:
1. Study the B2 program on my own
Alas, I must admit that I did not complete studying the B2 program because even though I wanted very much to achieve that goal, it was important for me to take care of some shortcomings before moving on.
In particular, I was inspired by one of my students who, although she already spoke Italian quite well, decided to start again by studying the A2 program more in-depth, by studying or restudying all the topics and loyally following the book’s syllabus.
And given the results she achieved, I told myself that it would probably have been good for me to go back and start with an A2 book, in order to have a more solid foundation and to continue my journey towards B1 and B2 levels.
2. Read a set of books of increasing difficulty in English
Among the books I set out to read in English, there were many of increasing difficulty, up to and including some classics of English literature. I did manage to read some of them, but not all of them unfortunately. In particular I read the ones that were a bit easier that I could read in the evening after work, before falling asleep.
Let’s just say that I read the ones that allowed me to enjoy reading without being too heavy or challenging after a long day.
On the one hand, I feel a little guilty for having not read everything I had set my mind to, but we must also consider that I am an Italian teacher and given my job it is appropriate that I read in Italian as well, in order to have conversation topics and to recommend books that I liked the most or that I think would be suitable for the level of my students.
With this I don’t want to excuse myself or make you think that I’ve given up and that, once the “year of the experiment” is over, I have no intention of reading in a foreign language. On the contrary, the challenge has continued and I have already bought more books in English…
Remember, as I always say: learning a language is a long process that, unfortunately or fortunately, never ends!
3. Attend lessons regularly with a native teacher
I can proudly say that I have been able to take English lessons with a teacher who is a native speaker on a regular basis. In addition, the thing that pleases me most is that when my teacher was not available, either because she was on vacation or because she had personal commitments, I made up for her absence with language exchanges with an American student of mine, who is now more of a friend than a student.
In short, for this point I really think I deserve a pat on the back! :)
Do you know how to communicate with native English speakers?
At the end of the article I wrote last year, in addition to listing these 3 points that I’ve already discussed and analyzed, there was one question, what can be considered the question of questions for anyone studying a foreign language:
Do you know how to communicate with native English speakers?
Well, I’d say that on a whole I am able to communicate with them on different topics, especially the most recurring ones, such as those concerning everyday and current affairs.
It’s a fact, however, that this ability clearly decreases when there are more specific and sectoral themes, of which I would need to deepen my vocabulary to feel more comfortable discussing.
For the record, another thing I would like to point out is that it is easier for me to understand Americans than Brits, both because the American accent was the first with which I came into contact and also because my teacher is American, which counts for a lot.
In spite of this, and in spite of many people saying that understanding U.S. English is more than enough (because it’s the most common one and the one to which we are currently mostly exposed), I realize that this is something I should work on in order to feel confident and comfortable not only with my students, beginners especially, but with any person who speaks English, no matter their country of origin.
Before concluding, I would like to make some final remarks about the past year.
The experiment I carried out made me feel quite positive because even though I didn’t manage to accomplish everything I had set out to do, it made me appreciate once again my perseverance and motivation.
Of course, in life you can do some crazy things, reach excellent levels in a short period of time, such as when you prepare for university exams, for example, but since the dawn of time, la goccia scava la pietra which basically means that with perseverance and commitment, anything is possible. And it is the constant work which makes us achieve more and more each day.
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