by Robbie Kunz
A good way to keep yourself on track over a few weeks or months of language study is tracking your progress. Without this you’ll find your motivation to continue learning after the first few days or weeks almost disappears without constantly rewarding yourself. Tracking your progress might include creating a calendar or making a spreadsheet and noting down how many new words you enter into your note card program each day.
Or, it might mean tracking how many hours you study each day. By recording it, you will be able to look back and see how many words or hours you’ve studied and feel good about yourself. When you miss or skip a day, it will stand out. Nobody likes to have to put down “0” for a day.
You will notice that good note card programs will help keep you going each day since if you miss a day, the words up for review will begin to pile up. You’ll be motivated to review each day so that you won’t have to deal with many, many backed up words later.
Also, these programs will display how many words you have entered which provides a way to monitor your progress and keep going.
Along with tracking, you can also create goals for yourself. One goal might be that for one month, you will put in 20 or 30 new words each day. Another goal might be that you reach 2000 new words by some future date. This will provide a concrete number to work towards that will help you stay focused.
You can also use a reward system to help move yourself along. You might tell yourself that you won’t buy a certain item that you’ve been wanting until you’ve completed a certain number of words. You can also use short term rewards like treating yourself to a certain favorite food if you successfully complete your daily goal.
If you find that studying your repetitions in your note card program is annoying or bothersome, you can also make your studying more enjoyable by doing something else that you already like at the same time. If you like a particular food or drink, feel free to eat or drink it every time you study. Eventually your mind will link the two and it won’t feel like a nuisance when you go to study your repetitions.
If you have trouble remembering to sit down and go through your note cards up for review each day, you can try to link the study time to some other daily activity that you already do. For example, you might decide that every night after dinner, you will review your note card program and go through the words for that day. Or, you might decide that every night right before you go to sleep, you will review your words for that day. By linking the event to something that you already do each day, you won’t have to go out of your way to “make time” for it.
Also, remember, the real key to making progress in something long term like language learning is not trying to compare yourself each and every day to someone who has mastered the language.
The real success comes by making your studies a daily habit. If you make it your goal to study each and every day, there is no way that you will not make progress. Eventually after you’ve fallen into a groove of studying, you will look back and be amazed at the progress you have made.
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