Your Language Goal
Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the process.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed over a big goal.
I want to save $100,000. I want to travel the world. I want to start a business. I want to lose fifty pounds.
You picture yourself on the top of the mountain, looking down from where you started. But what about the climb and tools needed to make it?
How are you going to save the first $1,000. Which country will you visit first? Do you even have a passport? What business will you start and is it profitable and needed? Have you read any books about how to start a successful business?
You want to lose fifty pounds? Do you have a gym membership? Do you know how many calories you should be eating to lose a pound? Two pounds?
The process is more important than the outcome, especially when it comes to learning a language like Portuguese.
I’ve always made the mistake of thinking about the end goal: speaking fluent Portuguese. But I never really put in the time to create a strategy to become fluent.
I’d do a little studying here, study a bit there. I thought this was enough to get to fluency.
But it’s not.
You have to create a process. In order to learn Portuguese, you have to set a clear language goal that shows what you’ve learned so far.
So, how do you set a language goal?
How To Create The Process
If you’re like me, you aren’t the type of person who can go through life without a plan. You have to set milestones to check your progress.
A language goal is no different. You need to answer a few questions while you learn Portuguese. Let’s go through them.
What Is My Language Goal?
You’re learning Portuguese. Ok, cool. But how much do you actually want to learn?
Some of you may only want to know beginner or what I like to call tourist Portuguese. Tourist Portuguese is the bare essentials. You want to order a meal, check into your hotel, ask for basic directions, etc.
Then you have intermediate Portuguese or conversational Portuguese. This is a great level for most people. You can get by in Brazil and have a great time with local Brazilians without a translator. You might not know everything people say, but you know enough where you are never completely lost.
And finally, you have fluency. Fluent Portuguese is the goal for people who really love Brazilian culture. They want to work in Brazil, date a Brazilian, run a nonprofit organization or just live and retire in the country.
Do you know which level of Portuguese you really want to get to?
When Do I Want To Achieve This Goal?
Every goal has a deadline. If you don’t create one, you’ll never complete it.
Let’s say you are a true newbie to Portuguese. You don’t know anything. Your first language goal is to become a beginner and it just so happens that you want to visit Brazil in a few months.
Your deadline could be three to four months. You really could learn beginner Portuguese in a month. But connect your deadline to an event if you can. Going to Brazil is a great motivator to learn Portuguese.
Give yourself time, but not too much or else you run the risk of slacking off.
Which Language Skill Needs The Most Improvement?
If you are a true beginner, you will be poor at every skill. I always recommend putting emphasis on speaking and reading.
The 4 Language Skills are: Speaking, Listening, Reading & Writing.
If you have studied Portuguese for a few of months, you will know your weaknesses. Now is the time to focus on them and improve. Your weakest link might be speaking like me. You will spend the majority of your time speaking as much Portuguese as you can.
If you have difficulty understanding what people say, you would need to focus on your listening skills. You might find an online Brazilian Portuguese course like Semantica Portuguese as a great tool to improve your listening comprehension.
Whatever the case, find your weak spot and work on it.
How Many Hours Will I Study Each Week?
Simple question. How many hours will you commit to reaching your language goal? I always recommend ESD: Every Single Day.
You have to study Brazilian Portuguese every day to improve. Maximum exposure to the language is crucial. If you can’t live in Brazil and experience complete immersion, ESD is the next best thing.
I recommend at least spending an hour a day actively studying Portuguese. Active studying is writing in Portuguese, speaking in Portuguese, watching Brazilian videos like Semantica or BrazilPod for understanding, answering questions in a grammar book like Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar, etc.
Then spend significant time passively immersing yourself in Portuguese by doing things such as:
- Watching novelas and Brazilian news on a site like www.assistirnovelas.co. Even if you don’t understand it.
- Putting on a Brazilian podcast in the background while you do something else.
- Listening to Brazilian singers like Seu Jorge.
There are 24 hours in a day. You can find at least one hour to study Portuguese.
My Biggest Concern About Not Reaching My Goal Is:
- I don’t have enough time, I’m too busy with work.
- I’m not good at learning languages, so it’s going to be hard.
- Learning a language is too expensive. I can’t afford Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, a Portuguese tutor, etc.
- I won’t be able to learn until I can live in Brazil.
All of those concerns are understandable. We all have obstacles when it comes to any goal. Do any of these concerns relate to you? Or do you have a different one?
It’s smart to acknowledge a problem. But what about a solution?
I Will Overcome This Concern By:
Winners don’t quit and accept problems. They fix them.
What are you afraid of that could hold you back from reaching your language goal and how will you defeat it?
Don’t have enough time to study one hour a day? I don’t buy it unless you work 16 hour days. Cut out TV time. You don’t have to watch shows live. Watch it later when it shows up online.
Do you believe you aren’t good at learning languages? If a monkey can learn sign language, you can learn another human language. Turn on your favorite song, get pumped up and find confidence in yourself! You can do it.
You don’t have to buy expensive language learning software like Rosette Stone or Pimsleur. I’ve already written an article with my recommended language resources for learning Brazilian Portuguese. They are affordable.
I always recommend Semantica Portuguese because it’s the best online Brazilian Portuguese course available today.
And although I encourage people to spend significant time in Brazil and to experience the culture, I know everyone can’t do that.
Still, that isn’t an excuse to not learning Portuguese. You can create an immersive environment in your home and daily life with the suggestions mentioned in this article.
I Will Know I Reached My Language Goal When:
How will you know you made it to the mountain top?
There has to be a personal final test you can grade yourself with.
If you want to be conversational, you might say something like: I will know I am conversational when I have a 5 minute conversation with someone without being clueless for more than a few seconds.
If you are shooting for Tourist Portuguese: I will know I am a beginner when I able to order lunch, ask for directions and introduce myself.
This is your own finish line and extremely important to write down. Why?
In order to know how to study and what to study, you need to know what you want to do.
You have created the process for your language goal.
One Page Language Plan
Inspired by the one page business plan from the book The $100 Startup, I created a one page language plan for you to download and fill out yourself!
I’ve completed mine. My language goal is to be fluent in Brazilian Portuguese by 2017.
What about you?