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Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work. – Stephen King

Weekly Progress Journal

What Gets Measured, Gets Done

Download Weekly Progress Journal
(includes instructions and sample)

The single most important thing to boost emotion, motivation, and perception is making progress. Everyday progress—even small wins—is the key to long-term motivation. On the flip side, daily small setbacks can have an extremely negative impact. The Weekly Progress Journal adds the concepts from the language learning toolkit to a productivity planner, helping you:

      • Increase your motivation
      • Organize your priorities
      • Create efficient study habits
      • Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
      • Self-evaluate your progress
      • Spot negative thought patterns
      • Develop a strong inner game

Students should write down their weekly goals and specific targets for each goal. For example, “Listen to business podcasts for 3 hours.” Then, you should make a note of your progress throughout the week. At the end of the week, fill out the journal to reflect on your progress. 

Good habits are the key to language fluency. Create the habit of reflecting on your learning every week.

Motivation
Motivation is one of the most important factors which influence language learning. Without motivation, a student will find it difficult to move forward. Start with WHY: Why do you want to improve your language skills? Are you learning the language for a practical purpose such as a job promotion? Or are you learning to interact with people in that community? Figure out your own motivation matrix: Are you internally or externally motivated? Do you prefer positive or negative motivation? Monitor and tweak your own motivation each week. Ask yourself: What activities give you energy?

Goals vs. Process
You can either live life passively (on auto-pilot) or proactively by setting goals and designing the life you want. Goals are destinations. Without goals, people navigate blindly without purpose. Vision is the why. Goals are the what. Systems are the how. Your goals should be an extension of your vision of where you want to be and who you want to be; then design the system to carry you there. When you focus on the system, you don’t depend on willpower, you depend on habits to maximize momentum and minimize laziness or unproductivity.

SMART Goals
Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Input & Output
Students who want to raise their general language ability should blend input and output together in their learning. Input can come from other speakers, textbooks, newspapers, books, comics, music, TV shows, movies, radio, etc. The quality of input is very important because the resources you use will either facilitate or hinder your progress. Input should be authentic, comprehensible, interesting, and relevant.

The same principles that apply to input also apply to output. Students need to find various opportunities to produce output (speaking, writing). Quality output is achieved through enormous amounts of timely and relevant feedback. Students have to iteratively refine their output. Some students record themselves and fix their own issues. Most learners need an expert to point out their flaws and guide them toward better output. High output without correction focuses on speed, whereas low output of a higher quality focuses on accuracy. The best students find ways to balance both speed and accuracy.

Community
Having a community helps language learners in numerous ways: social connections, support network, shared memories, positivity, feedback, motivation, reinforcement, input-output opportunities, cultural exchange—the list goes on. Our brains are designed for emotion and connection. Think about it this way: most people who join the gym would prefer to have a gym buddy. Going to the gym together is mutually beneficial because partners push each other, exchange knowledge, and support each other through thick and thin. Learning another language is one of the most difficult and exhausting undertakings. There will be setbacks. There will be days when students are not motivated. There will be days when they question everything. Sharing their pain, frustration, or disappointment with their community is healthy. That connection can help them overcome resistance and difficulty. Sharing one’s experiences with others makes the journey all the more worthwhile.

Psychology
Psychology is an underestimated aspect of language learning. Generally, students focus on the tangible aspects of language: grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, culture, etc. Yet, the intangible parts of language such as confidence, emotion, self-knowledge, and resilience are equally important. Learning is not a straight path but an inherently messy journey. Students who are particularly sensitive to judgment and mistakes are sometimes not even aware of the psychological tools that can manage anxiety, stress, fear, and negativity. They have to learn healthy coping mechanisms, develop positive thinking habits, and improve their mental strength. Learning is intimately tied to mood and emotion. When someone feels discouraged, he or she is less likely to be enthusiastic about learning. Having the right mindset has tremendous benefits: increased confidence, resilience, and motivation; improved focus and self-knowledge; and decreased influence of negative emotions. To overcome all this negativity, you can summon three companions: mindfulness, resilience, self-compassion, and gratitude. Mindfulness refers to a nonjudgemental awareness of the present. The key is to let thoughts and feelings come and go, respecting their presence but not letting them consume you. Students should trust the learning process amid the anxiety, fear, and self-doubt.

Scorecard
What gets measured, gets done. Create the habit of reflecting on your language learning every week. Think about what you can do to change and improve every week. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself this week to yourself last week—i.e. compare yourself to your previous self. Good habits are the key to language fluency.