New Year is traditionally a time when we set goals for the next 12 months. Every year, I make language learning a priority. Up to now, however, my language goals have been vague. “Study every day”, “practice more”, that kind of thing. I usually start off well, but gradually, my study becomes sporadic. This year, I’m trying something different. I’m aiming to take exams in the languages I’m studying.
My goals this year are clear. Pass 3rd grade on the HSK Chinese test, and pass 3rd grade and pre-2nd grade on the French test. Now that I have something to work towards, I know what I have to do, and by when.
The pressure of knowing I have an exam to pass served me well when I was studying Japanese. My goal was to pass level 3, 2 and 1 in consecutive years, which I did. Knowing I had a test in December motivated me throughout the year. I studied even when I didn’t feel like it.
There is the argument about test-taking that you end up studying for the test, and not for practical usage, but I find, at the lower levels anyway, that the test content reflects what I need to learn to get by and communicate.
This year has got off to a good start study-wise. I’ve studied both Chinese and French every day so far. I’m aiming to take 3rd grade on the HSK in April and 3rd grade on the French test in June. The pre-2nd grade French test is in November. I’m planning my study time accordingly.
Of course, I can’t neglect my Japanese while I study these other languages. I use Japanese daily in my work as a translator, but I am also planning to take an exam in business psychology and two exams regarding mental health at the end of the year. These exams are all in Japanese. I also plan to read novels in Japanese for relaxation.
So, it will be a year of languages and learning for me. How about you? Do you have any language goals for the year ahead?
If you are thinking about learning Japanese, you can see how I did it in the book “How I Learnt Japanese, and How You Can Too: 60 Tips to Guarantee Success“.
Good luck with your studies!