2020-01-17

How to Set Successful Language Learning Goals

Goal setting is like a super power that will make you reach new heights when it comes to your Chinese language learning. We want you to be a Chinese super hero, so we’ve broken down how to set successful language learning goals in this post.

Where are you at?

Before you set your goals, it’s important to take a look at where you’re at. In all languages there are four main components in the following order of difficulty:

Listening
Speaking
Reading
Writing

In order to improve your communication skills in Chinese, you should take a look at where you’re at in each of those aspects. The nice thing is that they build off each other. The more you can understand when listening, the more you will eventually be able to speak.

When it comes to reading you can learn how to use words in sentences which will then improve the other three aspects of your language learning.

Be honest with yourself about where you’re at. If you can only read 100 characters, that’s totally fine! If you can only read one, that’s okay, too! You’re going to have a fun time seeing improvement come quickly. If you’re a much more advanced learner it may seem like you are progressing more slowly, but if you are consistent you will actually improve just as fast and sometimes faster than when you first started.

Find your “Why”

Why are you learning Chinese? This will help you stay motivated and know what kinds of goals to set. I’ll give you a few examples here to help out:

Reason: My friend or significant other speaks Chinese
Goal: Learn to text in basic Chinese.
Method: Read or listen to two Du Chinese beginner lessons a day so I can better understand them. Go through 10 flashcards a day so I can know more characters and begin texting in Chinese whenever I can.

Reason: I am going to China for business
Goal: Be able to hold a 5 minute conversation in Chinese.
Method: I’ll get there by going through lessons that are based around conversations or business. I will study two each day and save any words I do not know to study whenever I open my phone

Reason: I am going to exchange in China
Goal: Reach HSK level 4
Method: Read 2 Intermediate level readings in Chinese every day, save the words I don’t know and review them at the end of each day.

Where do you want to go?

“Obtain Fluency”

This is a common language learning objective that is too vague. What is fluency and how do I know when I’ve obtained it?

It’s a bit like working out: I want to be in shape. In order to “achieve” that goal I like to break it up into smaller goals that I can measure: I want to work out 3 times a week. I want to do 20 push-ups. I want to do three sets of push-ups.

When it comes to your goals in Du Chinese, we encourage you to take a similar approach. Try to study one lesson every day or review 20 flashcards.

Give yourself a “mental workout” in Chinese each day to build on your previous progress. Studying 10 minutes every day is more effective than studying 2 hours once per week. If your weekly goal is to study 5 lessons, try to do them in 5 days rather than all at once.

If you review lessons you have read before you will see the progress you have made.

Another good idea is to break up the language into smaller, more attainable goals. You can make a goal to read at an HSK 2 reading level. This is a goal that can be reached fairly quickly and make a good stepping stone in your progress.

How are you going to get there?

This is the fun part! Make your goals and dreams a reality by planning out a strategy of attack. Only you can determine what is best for you, but think about this: To read a Chinese newspaper you need to know about 2000-3000 characters. Let’s just say 2,000. In that case, if you started studying 2 years ago and you memorized just 3 characters a day you could already read a newspaper! That’s insane!

The key here is to be realistic in how much you can devote to Chinese each day, and then be consistent. This might mean you just read one lesson a day and then study 10 flashcards. It might mean even just studying two lessons a week. Whatever works for you, find a level you can commit to and stick with it. When you look back you’re going to see the progress you’ve made and it will feel great.

How will you know that you made it?

So how will you know when you’ve reached your goals? Well, hopefully you’ve set ones that you can reach within the next few weeks, months or year. You may have a greater goal that extends further but you’ll want to break it down into smaller goals that you can reach sooner.

If your goal is just to improve your Chinese, you’ll know that you’ve made it if you are consistently studying each day or week.

What next?

Write down your goals and plans, then start working towards them. If you need help with learning Chinese, especially practicing your reading or listening skills, download the “Du Chinese” app and get to studying! 加油! Jiā yóu!