Translation of “New Year’s Resolution: learn a new language” by Alanna Quintyne

A new year has begun and it’s possible like every year that we are trying to make some resolutions.

In today’s article called “New Year’s Resolution: learn a new language”, I am explaining to you my project for the entire year, improving my English by doing what I like the most: reading. And at the end of the year, I will draw my conclusions. In this article, I will explain steps and goals you need to be on your way to success!

Now, I want to challenge you: do you want to use the year that has just started to learn or improve your favorite language? Are you in?

A new year is upon us, and as always, we are all struggling with resolutions. To live a healthier life, to work less, to travel more and, last but not least, to learn or improve a foreign language, are the most common ones that we set out to do every year. And I must admit, I am no exception either!

So, I would like to start an experiment with you, lasting one year, during which we will try to learn or improve a foreign language and at the end of the same year we will draw our conclusions.

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I know it is a challenge for many as it is for me as well, because I often don’t have time, or I am tired after a whole day spent in front of the computer, but if you are really motivated, if you really want to do something, one way or another you will be able to find not only the time but also the right energy.

So, let’s go and start organizing ourselves so we can achieve this goal and learn or improve the language we hold so dear. I have compiled below some points that will help you in understanding the basic things to keep in mind before embarking on this language adventure.

1. Choose the language to learn

Choosing which language to learn is no small matter. It can be dictated by external needs, such as living in a particular country, believing that knowing a particular language can give us a leap forward in our career, or obtaining a bonus at work if we get a language certification. What drives us toward a language, however, can also be purely personal: a language fascinates us, captivates us, and we feel the need to learn it.

If you love the Italian language but have not yet found the right motivation to take this path, the article 5 Reasons to Learn Italian might give you the right boost to get started!

2. Find or regain the right motivation

Motivation is the key ingredient for starting something and completing it successfully. Unfortunately, without it you cannot go far.

The first paragraph of this article highlighted some reasons why it would be a good choice to learn a new language. Each of the above examples has its own motive which can give us the right stimulus to jump into a new venture. Remember, however, that learning a new language is a difficult path with a long-term deadline and that demotivation and waning interest may always be lurking.

In this regard, a few months ago I wrote an article with 9 tips through which you can regain motivation in times of discouragement.

3. Set the ultimate goal and small intermediate goals

Having a clear goal is the cornerstone of getting started. Knowing where we want to reach will give us the opportunity to chart a course to follow with intermediate milestones.

Let me give you my example:

With my English teacher, I have decided that within a year I will study English grammar on my own at least up to the B2 level, because I believe that knowledge of grammar, however minimal, cannot be ignored.

Over the course of this year I will continue to take English lessons, focusing on conversation and, I will devote myself to reading in English, starting with rather simple books designed for those with a B2 level, and gradually increasing the difficulty until I can read strictly in English the last book of the year, The Scarlet Letter!

Defining the path to be taken, the final goal, and intermediate steps will enable you not to waste time and aim straight for the goal.

4. Identify the method that is right for you

We Italians often say,

Il mondo è bello perché è vario!

The world is beautiful because it is diverse!

and there is nothing truer, especially when it comes to figuring out the right or most effective method for learning a new language.

Since everyone is different, what works for one person will probably not work for another. There are people who need to study grammar more, while others don’t want to hear about it at all. Some have a more developed auditory memory, and others have a more visual memory.

In short, what I want to tell you is that for studying to be effective you must follow your inclinations and find resources that are as stimulating as possible while using a method that is effective for you.

5. Get involved

It sounds easy to say and it really is. There are many ways to practice: through apps, listening to songs, podcasts, audiobooks and reading, among others. But, remember that there is an even more interactive method that will allow you to make friends and interact with native speakers.

Follow, comment, and interact on social media. There are so many Italian groups and profiles of Italian teachers to follow, but not only that.

If you have a hobby or a particular passion, look for profiles that deal with the topic via hashtags in Italian. Don’t be shy and start liking, commenting and exchanging opinions with others, and see how you’ll come out of your shell, improve your Italian and make new friends.

6. Immerse yourself in the culture

Immersing yourself in the culture of the language you are studying is a great way to learn a language. Sayings, proverbs, idioms tell us so much about a given culture. But even the holidays, the food, the movies as well as the sports played in a nation can help us to immerse ourselves even when we haven’t left home.

Some time ago, in fact, I wrote an article called Italian-themed evening in which I explained in full detail how to recreate an Italian-themed evening at home.

Needless to say, the evening can also turn into an entire day and the theme can vary depending on the language you are studying. And so, you have room for imagination! When you have creativity and a desire to get involved, no one will be able to stop you!

This point brings us directly to the next one.

 

7. Travel – if possible

Travel is an integral part of the learning process. It involves enrichment and pleasure of discovery… Being in contact with different cultures, especially when learning the language of the place you are visiting, will give us a better understanding of traditions, customs and lifestyles different from our own.

If possible, travel, travel and talk to local people. Travel opens our minds, allows us to get unstuck if we are stuck, and allows us to put into practice everything we have learned from studying at home.

8. Give yourself a time limit and make a final report.

It is essential to give ourselves a time limit, to see if our hard work has paid off.

As extensively explained in the introduction and in point 3, the maximum time limit I set is one year, at the end of which I will take stock by asking myself, for example:

  • Have I improved my grammar?
  • Have I managed to read all the books I set out to read in English?
  • Have I been able to consistently take English classes?
  • Am I able to converse with native speakers on different topics?

By answering these questions, I will be able to get a clearer picture of my situation, be able to understand the progress I have made over the months and set new goals to.

Conclusion

In this article I have told you about a one year experiment that I decided to do myself.

This idea came about, as it often does, as a result of a conversation with one of my students, who teaches English to Italians. The consideration from which it all started was the following: “lack of motivation and clear purpose leads to non-application and non-achievement of goals.”

Finding myself extremely in agreement with this statement, not wanting to have my efforts and English lessons be in vain, I began to ask myself what I like to do, what my weaknesses are and how to make studying as enjoyable and effective as possible. So here I am starting the new year with a new purpose and a project to complete, all on my own.

What do you think of this article? Has it intrigued you? Would you also like to do this experiment and, if you like, share with me the results in a year’s time?

Remember: this is a challenge with yourself!

Method, resources and timing are all up to you. The only person you have to confront is yourself!

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Listen to this episode in Italian! Read the script here!