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Ten Tips for Improving Your English (2): Set Specific Goals

This is the second article in a series on ten different ways that you can improve your English. It took longer than the week I promised!

The second tip in our series is “Set Specific Goals”. Once you know why you want to learn English, you can start thinking about where specifically you want to be with your English.

In this tip we’ll talk about two important aspects of setting specific goals.

1) Knowing where you are now
2) Setting your goals

Knowing where you are

In order to set realistic goals for where you want to be, it’s important to find out where your English level currently stands. I remember hearing a of a quote that went something like this: “If you don’t know where you are on the map, you won’t know whether to turn left or right when you walk out the door in the morning.”

There are several different ways to gain an understanding of your current English level:

One way is to do your best to carry out an honest personal assessment of your own English level. Write down your answers the following questions:

  • How easily am I able to communicate with people in spoken English?
  • What type of English materials are easy for me to read (newspapers, magazines, books, textbooks)? Which materials are more difficult?
  • How much of an English movie can I understand without Chinese subtitles? Without English subtitles?!
  • Do I feel comfortable writing in English? How easily can I write a letter? An email? An essay?

Another way to get an idea of your level is to take an English exam such as the IELTS. Doing so can show you where you stand relative to other English learners, and give you a yardstick to measure against as you improve in the future.

Setting your goals

Your specific goals are directly related to your reasons for studying English. Here are some examples of long-term goals.

  • Getting accepted into a university in England
  • Giving a speech in front of an audience–in English!
  • Scoring a seven on the IELTS
  • What is your goal?
  • Writing down your goals can help you focus on them, and will encourage you to work harder to reach them. Share your goals with your friends, and they can support you to work towards them.

    Up next… Find a Partner.

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