SMART English goals part 1

With the new year coming many people have made some new year’s resolutions and some of them have to do with learning English



The best goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals:





Time based.

I try to keep these blogs and audio files short (One bite English!) so I’ll split this over several parts.

Part 1:

Specific: “I want to get better at English in 2019” is a poor goal. What will be your main focus? Reading, listening, speaking or writing? A good tactic is to use the “5 whys”, get to the source of your problems:


“I can’t understand when people talk to me in English”

Why? (#1)

“Because I can’t understand they words they are saying”.

Why? (#2)

“They speak too fast for me”.

Why? (#3)

“I’m not used to fast English”.

Why? (#4)

“Because I have only practiced listening to English learning materials”.

Why? (#5)

“Because that’s all I had available”.

Recommended solution: This person needs to find some English listening that is a more natural speed. Audiobooks and podcasts are great for this, because there is so much available that you can find something that matches your interest. Most audiobook and podcast apps also have speed control, so you can start slowly and build up.

Example 2:

“I can’t speak English”


“It’s too difficult.”


“My mind goes blank when I talk to people in English.”


“I’m nervous.”


“I don’t want to make mistakes.”


“Because the other person will think I’m stupid.”


Recommended solution: This person needs to get over the fear of speaking. You can’t think properly if you are scared. The solution here isn’t easy. I can tell you that there is nothing to be scared of when talking in English (there isn’t), but that won’t help. I don’t like spiders. If someone tells me that tarantulas aren’t dangerous, I still don’t want to pet one.

What you need to overcome fear is exposure therapy. If touching a tarantula is scary then what would be easier?

Touching one with gloves?

Letting it crawl on my pants?

Looking at one in a glass cage?

touching a plastic one?

Watching a video of one?

Looking at a picture of one?

I would pick the level that scares me just a bit and work from there.



Having a conversation with a native speaker scares you?

How about an English teacher?

A language exchange partner?

Speaking on the phone?

Reading a prepared speech for someone else?

Reading an English script with an English speaker?

Recording yourself having imaginary conversations with English speakers?

Find the level of speaking that you can handle and work your way from there.

These are just examples of “The 5 whys”, everyone’s answer will be different. Maybe your listening is poor not because of speed, but because you lack vocabulary. Work on that. Maybe your speaking is poor because of your pronunciation. Focus your efforts there.

Be specific and figure out what your underlying problem is, and work on that.

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