When we learn a new skill or work on a project, a sure way to reach our goals is to set milestones along the way to remind us that we are on track, even when we feel like we are not really progressing as fast as we wished.
It’s no secret that learning a foreign language is a long-term ordeal. Yet the most fruitful way to improve your language skills is to plan your journey in chunks of 3 months perhaps and you can use the same timeline for other goals. What do you want to accomplish in 12 weeks? Formulate your goals with precision against that timeline, so that we can measure our progress effective.
But the path of learning is not a straightforward one, either. Roadblocks and plateaus are common, and many spend weeks feeling like they are not making any progress. But don’t worry: these roadblocks are usually shattered when you accidentally hit the next milestone (<– read more here).
Exciting Milestones That Show You Are Progressing
Beginner-Level Breakthroughs – There Will Be Many
#1 The first time your order something with zero English
When we are first learning a new language, it will take a while before you can casually chat with a waitress or a shop keeper and find out about their childhood.
On the other hand, a basic and to-the-point interaction may already be within your grasp. It is very satisfying to be able to choose something off a menu, read its name properly, and understand the price without ever resorting to use your mother tongue. And to think a few weeks ago you couldn’t even say “food now!”
#2 – The first time you catch song lyrics
You know that catchy summer hit from last summer? It may have even been part of the reason why you decided to learn English and fell in love with the culture.
The great thing about pop hits is that their chorus and bridge tend to be simple, to the point, and to rhyme. Because of this, it may not take you long for you to be able to sing along to it, pronounce it correctly, and finally understand what it’s about.
Intermediate-Level Breakthrough Moments
When you hit the “intermediate” level, you can already handle small talk with ease. However, talking to native speakers may still feel confusing and frustrating.
At this stage, progress also slows down, and fatigue begins to accumulate. Take advantage of any of these milestones to renew your commitment to learning a new language.
#3 – When you catch that headline without help
Following the news or listening to news podcasts in English is one of the great ways you can practice you listening skills. Reading news articles in English it’s another great way to expand your vocabulary.
#4 –The first time you get directions (and understand them!)
“Asking for directions” is usually one of the first things you learn in an English class. However, these kinds of conversations usually happen in busy streets and are peppered with slang and car horns in real life. So it takes a while to get the hang of those!
If you have finally managed to reach your destination using your English, congratulations!
Advanced-Level Breakthrough Moments
“Conversational” takes hard work, but “fluent” is the actual marathon. Look out for these milestones; they signal that the finish line is near.
#5 – When you first react in your new language
When we get emotional for whatever reason, whether it is positive or negative, we speak in our native language because we embody it. But what if you are just startled? What if you stepped on a piece of Lego and suddenly you uttered a word in English?! That would be a real milestone because it signalled that you were already thinking in English at that moment. And you managed to stick to it!
#6 – Did I dream in English?
The final and most elusive of all language mastery symptoms: being able to dream in your new language. For many, this may take years so congratulation!!
Hitting milestones provides us with a sense of accomplishment that keeps us motivated. This can be invaluable for a long, challenging goal such as learning a new language.
What about you? Do you have any recent milestones to celebrate? Why share them in the comment section below and help others too?
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