We asked you all on Instagram what the hardest part of learning a language was, and undeniably, it was staying accountable and consistent with your goals. I also couldn't agree more with you! By now it's relatively common knowledge that learning languages on your own can often be a great advantage in comparison to learning it in a class. Not only can you pace your studies to your individual capabilities, but you can also create better natural connections with the content and learn to speak faster than ever before. The internet is full of free and paid services out there, many great textbooks are easily accessible.
With everything at your fingertips- language learning should be a breeze, right? Or so you would think. Turns out that without physical classes and very real teachers we struggle to stay consistent and actually meet any of the goals we set out to accomplish. Even if language leaning on your own is efficient, it will have no effect without consistency.
The following is a list of ways to keep more accountable to your goals and get the most out of all the resources you have to learn your target language:
Write Your Goals Down. This may seem incredibly redundant to you. "Well, duh!". Even though this is a basic tip, I felt I had to include it because so many people go around with things in their heads and feel like it's organised and clear. Big tip, you're headspace is never clear! You need to write things down to properly consider whether or not your goal is achievable and in what way so.
Narrow Your Goals Down. Following the last point, your origin goal is most likely going too broad to know what to do next, and the only way you will achieve being consistent is if you have small, clear actionable tasks that will allow you to take things a step at a time. That's why in a class, your teacher sets clear objectives for every single lesson and lists the things expected of you before the next test. You have to recreate this for yourself, and it starts with a little brainstorming. Ask yourself, what would I do to achieve my end goal? Try to make these steps as small as possible and make sure they're adding up to what you want them to.
Tell Someone. I started Gladly Global with this very intention. By telling people you have something you want to accomplish the goal because a little more real. You no longer can skimp out on it, and later say well I wasn't really planning to be serious now, or well I can always start later. When you tell someone you are taking a leap of faith and solidifying what you say as something you believe you can accomplish. You're believing in yourself, that's so important!
Set Specific Times To Do It. This isn't entirely necessary, but depending on what kind of person you are this can make or break your backbone. For me, I like to have a time period: "within this day" or "by the end of this week" Still, it's nice to give a suggested time slot to do it also, so that you don't end up procrastinating until the last minute or waking up and realise a week has passed and you haven't worked on your goal.
Work With Someone. Ever since I was little I hated working by myself. There were simply too many distractions and the view outside my window was always more interesting. I would become antsy, thirsty, hunger- just about anything but focused when I sat at my desk. Working with friends or accountability partners is always a great way to stay focused because you provide for each other a bit of a pride ultimatum. When someone is sitting in front of you, it's embarrassing to just slack off. Somehow, having someone else who is focused rubs off and gets you to focus too. Plus, if you both make a date to study together, then you also don't have to rely on your willpower to start studying when you said you would. If you don't have such a friend you can study with, or what to find people who are studying languages together online, join our discord community, where there is an open video room all week for people who want to study together.
Set Firm Rules, Never Soft Ones. Don't make suggestions to yourself for how much you should study or when. Make hard rules that say, even if I have to stay up and lose some sleep, I'm going to do this activity. It's much better to make hard rules (I'll do 2 pages this week) that are less ambitious than to be soft (I'll do 5 pages if I feel up to it). Don't leave things up to your willpower, we as humans are too weak to be given the decision. Only set goals for things you know you will be able to follow through on. (If you were wrong, you can always adjust later!)
Start with Just 5 Minutes. Often the hardest part of doing an action is starting it. You may feel dread, discomfort, nauseous- the whole kit and caboodle before starting something you don't want to do at that moment. Boy, am I here often. Yet, I know I enjoy studying and learning, but before I start it feels like some ridiculous hurdle. Next time this happens, don't give yourself any time to whine about it, click into the forest app or any other productivity timer, and set 5 minutes- just 5, and start what it is you are avoiding. I bet in a few minutes, you'll find your groove and wonder why you didn't want to do it so much in the first place!
Set Rewards + Restrictions. This has never been something that I liked to do, mostly because I felt like I was treating myself like a puppy. Yet, in academic study after study, this is the single most cited way to build habits. We are creatures that chase rewards and positive association. Tell yourself that you can't watch TV before 5 pomodoros, or that you can't order that new pen set until you've finished X textbook. Not only is it going to help you be productive, but you also treat yourself with the rewards you deserve!
Be Firm, But Not Hard On Yourself. In #6 I mentioned you had to be a little strict, and although this is true, being hard on yourself for not accomplishing what you had hoped has no value to you and your studies. What matters is what you accomplish going forward, and you'll only be able to do that if you trust that you are capable, amazing and just the kind of person who is able to accomplish your goals. You have to know that when you don't meet your goals, it's a fault of your system or your energy level- but NEVER is it a fault of who you are. Be confident.
Track Your Progress & Be Your Own Motivation. No one should ever be more inspiring to you than you. Make sure that when you complete something you set out or made some kind of win, that you are recording and taking note of how great you're doing. It's so easy to focus on the negative and what you don't have, but what is going to feed your intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, will be the proof in the pudding, the evidence that you are amazing and you can keep being just as great!
I hope these 10 tips for accountability help you with your studies going forward, and that you start to believe in yourself more! If you are interested in joining our Sunday Accountability group, then click this link to find out more.