SMART Goal Setting For Language Learning

We see SMART goal setting everywhere, but we have to ask ourselves are they really applicable to something so difficult to measure as language proficiency? We all know learners who do well in tests but are very shy and hesitant when the have to speak, and then on the other end of the spectrum we see learners who make a large number of grammatical mistakes but are great communicators and pass their message with confidence.

So where do the SMART goals sit with this problem? While it is true that the original SMART goals were created for business, not for language learners, they can still be a good gauge of progress and especially for keeping motivation high.

Why do we need to set goals? Well, language learning is a bit like a marathon and a roller coaster experience all rolled into one…. so, your learning plan needs planning and constant pushes of motivation.

Take a look at this plan for learners aiming for B1/B2 level. What do you think ? How does it apply to you?

Good goals Detailed plan
S Specific

Avoid vague goals, such as “My goal is to be fluent by the end of the year”

Ask yourself WHY ?

Improve from A2 to B1 level in the next 6 months

Be able to have a 10 minute conversation with someone in 6 weeks.

Focus on getting the Past tense right every time.
M Measurable

Avoid a vague goal such as “I want to feel more confident”.

Proficiency tests may be a guide to passive knowledge, but the way to develop active knowledge,  is done by speaking. Take the lead in a meeting
A Attainable

Avoid saying “I’ll have more time next time.”

Focus on making small steps.

Have a daily objective. Start with listening; make listening a habit.

20 minutes a day is doable.

Listen to podcasts on your way to work or in your lunch break.

R Relevant

Avoid worrying about words you don’t need.

Focus on what you need.

Don’t worry about what you don’t need. We learn better (quicker) when it’s important to us.

Focus on one aspect of vocabulary that you need  in the short term. Eg; meeting vocabulary
T Time-bound

Having a deadline will focus the mind.

25 hours / 30 hours / 40 hours

For each hour with your trainer ,do at least 2 hours alone (listening, writing, grammar)

Devote quality time to learning.



Susan Barke  07/01/2022

Buckland Business English