The New Year is a time for everyone to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the year to come. We look at the things we accomplished, and the things we did well and try to learn from the things that didn’t work so well. Then we set our goals going forward into the coming year.
Students learning a new language can also use this opportunity to take stock of what they learned in the past year. After they review what they accomplished, they can use this list as a jumping-off point to set goals for the year ahead. Their italki teachers can help them do this as a lesson in and of itself; the New Year’s Learning Resolution. The teacher can create this lesson plan emphasizing discussion and writing while focusing on reflection and goal setting.
Let’s say there is a student named Paolo who is looking forward to having many lessons in the coming year with his favorite italki teacher, Sally. Sally has created a lesson plan where she is going to help him with his New Year’s English learning goals. On her instruction, Paolo will start making short notes about his successes from the previous years and goals for the next.
This New Year’s resolution lesson will begin with a warm-up discussion activity. Sally will guide Paolo by asking him a set of questions meant to encourage him to reflect on what he wanted to learn at the beginning of the previous year. The first question could be; “What do you think your language level was at the beginning of the year?” or “How good were you at using the verb tenses?” Whatever the first question is, it should lead Paolo to begin identifying the areas of language that he improved upon in the previous year and should give him a feeling of accomplishment.
Next, Sally will change gears and get Paolo to think about areas of language where he didn’t necessarily improve, but maybe could have or wished he had. She will call these “missed opportunities,” not “failures.” Paolo may say, “Well, I wanted to improve my pronunciation, but I still have trouble saying words that end in -ed.” And with that, Sally and Paolo have identified one of his first learning goals for the coming year.
Paolo and Sally will then decide what is the proper overall goal for Paolo to set for his language level at the end of the coming year. Should he shoot for middle intermediate, upper intermediate, or advanced? Sally will encourage him to think big but also keep his aspirations realistic. Then they can identify areas that Paolo can start tackling in order to “level up.” They will brainstorm the ways in which they could work together to achieve their goals. Does Paolo have a good foundation in the next level’s vocabulary? Or, maybe he needs to concentrate on next-level grammar or speaking. This will help them formulate a lesson-based strategy for next year’s success.
In the writing phase of the lesson, Sally will help Paolo put his next year’s goals to paper. Sally could have him write a friendly letter to himself, or to the teacher. However, Paolo is one of her business students, so Sally is going to have him structure the writing like a business letter. This is one of the areas of business English that they worked on in the past year. As such, Paolo is going to structure the memo as if he was a CEO sending a year-ending performance review summary to his employee (himself, in this case). He will focus on using formal business English and structure.
In the letter, Paolo will start with his evaluation of last year’s progress. The letter will begin by reviewing his objectives from the previous year. What were the objectives that he accomplished and for which objectives did he fall short? Sally will guide him to use softening phrases and constructive, encouraging language. This section will be honest and direct, but positive and empowering. For example, he will say, “You worked hard last year and made a lot of progress learning how to use all the verb tenses. In the coming year, you could improve your accuracy using them in conversation. I would also like to see you make more progress on your pronunciation, especially with words ending in -ed and -s.”
In the next part of the letter, Paolo will establish 5 measurable and realistic goals for the upcoming year. Here, Sally will encourage him to number them or use bullet points for each goal. This way, Sally and Paolo can refer back to the letter periodically, maybe quarterly, to evaluate his progress toward achieving each goal. This whole process will benefit the student by making their goals clear and trackable.