New Year, New Language: Your New Year Aspirations

New year, new you, new language? 🎆

New Year, New Language: Your New Year Aspirations

It’s that time of the year again! No, not Christmas. Fast-forward a bit. I’m talking about that time of the year when you make unrealistic New Year’s resolutions – like learning a new language – that won’t probably make it to the end of January. You know it. I know it. Let’s be honest. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on personal growth and make a list of resolutions for the upcoming year. Whether it’s language learning or getting in shape, New Year’s resolutions can become a reality with good planning and SMART goals.

Many of us give up early on our New Year’s resolutions because we’re busy and demoralized. We’re only humans, after all. Still, this can change. So, let’s see how you can take up language learning in the new year and keep doing it until December.

What Are New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions are personal promises or goals people set for themselves as they embark on a new year. These resolutions often focus on self-improvement, lifestyle changes, or achieving specific objectives. The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions dates back centuries and is a common practice in many cultures around the world. Many take advantage of the clean slate – meaning the new year – to quit bad habits or maybe learn something new.

The practice is rooted in looking back on the previous year, identifying areas for improvement, and making a promise to yourself to begin your personal growth journey on the first day of the new year.

The success of New Year’s resolutions varies greatly. For some, they serve as a beneficial source of motivation for instigating positive transformations, while others may encounter difficulties maintaining their resolutions over the long term. The key to successful New Year’s resolutions often lies in setting realistic, specific, and achievable goals, accompanied by a well-structured plan to follow through on them.

SMART Goals for Language Learning

Our biggest problem when setting New Year’s resolutions is our apparent inability to regard each resolution as a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). For example, a faulty resolution could be “I want to learn a new language this year”. That’s not enough to motivate you.

However, if you change it into a SMART goal, everything changes: “I want to speak conversational Thai by the end of December because I want to travel to Thailand next year”. You can already see it becoming a reality, right?

But wait! Now, instead of imagining how accomplished you are going to feel when you reach that certain goal, you should envision the process towards it and enjoy every second of it. Otherwise, you will just end up procrastinating.

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A SMART Goal is

  • Specific: Choose a language and define what fluency or proficiency means to you. For instance, “I want to achieve conversational fluency in Spanish”.
  • Measurable: Track your progress and set milestones, like completing a language course or holding a 15-minute conversation in the target language.
  • Achievable: Make sure your goal aligns with your current lifestyle. If you’re new to language learning, aim for basic proficiency before advancing to more complex goals.
  • Relevant: Pick a language that resonates with your personal or professional life. Learning Japanese might be perfect if you love the Japanese culture or plan a trip to Japan, but Chinese is probably better for career opportunities.
  • Time-Bound: Set a clear deadline. For example, “I will reach B1 level in French by the end of this year”.

Studies show that breaking down your SMART goals into even smaller steps, like learning 1,000 French words by March, further boosts motivation and reward. Achieving this will let you understand 75% of written French without a dictionary. Moreover, involving a friend enhances motivation through competition, unlike sharing goals on social media. According to a 2019 research, public goal-sharing may diminish determination, as early social recognition acts as a premature reward. In contrast, friendly competition in learning a language or losing weight can spur your competitive spirit, with the reward being your improvement.

The Mental Health Benefits of Language Learning

Why should learning a new language be included in your New Year’s resolutions list? Because language learning is good for your brain. According to multiple studies, the benefits for your cognitive health and well-being are undeniable.

Cognitive Benefits

Your brain is like a muscle: train it now, and you will enjoy the health benefits later. And learning a second or a third language is a great way of training your brain – especially if you are not a student anymore and the information flow is not as good as it used to be. More precisely, various studies have shown that learning a new language is directly linked to a slower rate of mental decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia prevention.

Moreover, language learning will give a great boost to your memory. In fact, it can increase the size of your brain! This is what Swedish scientists discovered when they used brain scans to monitor what happens when someone learns a second language.

Mental Well-Being Benefits

The third millennium is governed by stress, depression, sleep deprivation and lack of empathy from those around you. Learning a language can be a fulfilling endeavor that boosts self-esteem, reduces stress, and provides a sense of achievement. So, why not give your brain something to be happy about? Learn Spanish. Learn German. Or maybe learn Japanese. Here are some of the best tips on how to learn a language fast.

Economic Advantages of Language Learning

Language learning provides various economic advantages that contribute to both personal and professional growth. If you don’t choose language learning as a resolution for its cognitive benefits, you’ll surely choose it for its economic advantages.

  • Career opportunities: Being bilingual or multilingual can open doors to new job opportunities, especially in global or multicultural companies. Multilingual individuals can communicate effectively with a broader range of clients, partners, and customers, potentially leading to increased business success.
  • Freelancing prospects: Learning a new language can lead to freelance opportunities, like translation or tutoring, adding an extra income stream.
  • Salary boost: In some cases, people who speak more than one language may receive higher salaries than their monolingual counterparts. Certain industries, like finance, law, and technology, highly value language proficiency and are willing to compensate employees accordingly.
  • Easier business travel: Language proficiency enables professionals to communicate effectively and build stronger relationships with their local partners and clients and better navigate unfamiliar environments.

personal growth

Top 5 To-Do’s for Learning a New Language

1. Set Achievable Daily Goals: Establish a routine for language practice and break down your overall SMART goal into smaller, daily goals. This will help you get your rewards sooner and keep yourself motivated.

2. Engage Regularly with Interactive Lessons: Another great motivator is interactive lessons and exercises. Your best bet in this situation is language learning apps, such as Mondly, that keep learning fun and engaging every single day.

3. Practice Speaking and Listening: Focus on conversational practice and improving listening skills – especially if your final goal is to become fluent.

4. Track and Review Your Progress: Monitor your learning journey and adjust your strategies as needed. Besides, the simple act of crossing things off of your to-do list is an amazing energy boost for your brain. As soon as you’ll achieve some of the mini-resolutions, you’ll feel more confident and determined to continue your journey.

5. Participate in Community Challenges or Forums: Engaging with other learners will not only make you feel understood, but it will also boost your motivation. Studies have shown that comparing results with your peers will help you activate your competitive spirit.

Embarking on the journey of learning a new language as a New Year’s resolution is a path filled with many benefits. While the process may seem daunting at first, adopting a SMART goal approach—making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound—can significantly enhance the chances of success.

Here’s to embracing the linguistic journey and making the New Year truly transformative! 🥂

New Year, New Language

The time to start learning a new language is now. Not next year, not tomorrow, and not on Monday. Luckily, the award-winning language app Mondly makes language learning fun and helps you avoid procrastination.

Instead of tiring yourself for hours with inch-thick textbooks, slip a 10-minute Mondly lesson into your routine and make learning a breeze. You will learn languages naturally using:

  • practical topics;
  • hands-on, interactive language lessons;
  • intelligent suggestions and instant feedback on pronunciation;
  • real-life conversations and so much more.

Start using Mondly for free on your computer or download the app and learn languages anytime, anywhere.

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Diana Lăpușneanu - Linguist at Mondly Blog

Diana is a Linguist at Mondly by Pearson. Learning English as a second language early on fueled her lifelong passion for language learning, leading her to pursue a diverse array of languages as a hobby alongside her academic endeavors. With a Master’s Degree in advertising and a fascination for historical linguistics, she brings a unique perspective to her role, making language learning fun for readers worldwide.

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