Day 1 : Motivation and Introduction to Goal Setting in Language Learning

Welcome to the first episode in this 3-day challenge to help you gain clarity on your goals and propel you to finally succeed at learning the French language. My name is Marie-Eve Brideau and I will be your host for the next couple of days. I am a Certified Language Coach and I love to help English-speakers learn and appreciate my mother tongue, the beautiful French language.

People often assume that it is very hard to learn another language in an English-dominated area, wherever you are in the world. It is true that the opportunities for practice are limited but with today’s technology, anything is possible. With an estimated 274-million speakers and recognized as an official language of the United Nations, NATO, the World Trade Organization and many more international organizations, French is the 3rd most influential language in the world. That’s a motivation in and of itself. Of course, it requires time and efforts, but with clear goals you can achieve whatever you want.

I am the proof of it. I was born and raised in a small French-speaking town in Québec, Canada and decided one day that I was going to learn English and become bilingual. As a perfectionist, it was not always easy but with time and efforts, I made it work as you can hear. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from my journey to help you learn French, my mother tongue. I now live in an English-dominated province and can communicate very easily.

My interest for languages has brought me to become a Certified Teacher. I have taught hundreds of students over the past 15 years using different methods and types of delivery. I recently focused my attention on Neurolanguage coaching, the most efficient way to teach a language using coaching principles and neuroscience to enhance and speed up the learning process. I want to share with you in this challenge how you can set up goals for yourself that will prepare you for success. To be honest, I wish I had known some of this stuff when I was in the process of learning English, it would’ve made things a lot easier!

Without further ado, let’s dive in to this 3-day challenge. Today, we will understand the importance of motivation in language learning as well as get clear on how to set up goals that will ensure your success. Make sure you download the workbook that you received in the email. In episode 2, we will start setting goals that are related to the mechanics of the language, be it sentence structure, verb tenses, conjugations, parts of speech, etc. And finally, in episode 3, we will look at goals related to the mastery of the language so anything related to vocabulary, pronunciation, flow and fluency. At the end of the challenge, you will have a clear road map to achieve success on your journey to learn French. So let’s get started

Alright so in today’s episode, we are taking about your motivation to learn French and how to set up goals that will help you succeed. So, why do you want to learn French? Imagine it as vividly as possible. Is it to be able to sit in a café in Paris and soak in the culture? Is it to get a promotion at work that would bring you to use your skills all over the world? Or is it to have more choice on your next job search and get the job of your dreams? Imagine yourself in the situation, having a conversation in French with a local, your boss, a client or at an interview. How does it feel?

Take a few seconds to close your eyes and visualize it. Remember, be as detailed as possible and get back to it as often as you want when the journey gets a little more difficult. James Redfield, a bestselling author, says ‘Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows”. So if you focus your attention on positive and a vivid ideal, your energy and actions will go in that direction. Alright, now, pause this episode and fill the first section on the workbook with your intention and motivation. You can it write down or draw it. You may even want to create a vision board to give you more inspiration. Let your creativity flow!

Welcome back! How do you feel? Are you energized by that vision? Does it give you the necessary kick in the *ahem* to get you started? If you haven’t done the exercise yet, pause this episode now and go do it!

Now that you can visualize the reason why you want to learn French, let’s break down how you are going to get there. When most people set up what they perceive as goals or objectives for themselves, it often turns more into wishful thinking than anything else. Remember those new year’s resolutions that you end up dropping? I want to lose weight, I want to go to the gym more, I want to become bilingual… All these ‘goals’ are either too generic or way too big to tackle without a plan.

Imagine climbing the Everest. Do you think TV daredevil Bear Grylls just woke up one morning and started climbing? Obviously not. He started with an action plan, trained, climbed a practice wall, practiced on smaller mountains until he was ready for the big event. And even then each step was carefully placed and he stopped to rest at each base camp. Learning a language or any intensive skill, like painting, piano or trades, requires a lot of time and efforts if you want to learn it on your own. Of course, a coach or a training program can help you, but those are only tools on your journey. After this, do you think it makes sense to just wing it?

Goal setting works the same way. In order to achieve a goal, the more specific and realistic you are, the more chances you have to succeed and feel good about the results. One of the ways to do it is to create SMART (S.M.A.R.T) goals; a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant to your situation and Time-bound. You can see it in details on your workbook.

Pause this episode and take a few minutes to brainstorm some things that you want to achieve. We will go in more details about each aspect of the goal setting process right after this break, but I want you to throw in as many ideas as possible on paper of things you could achieve related to learning the French language. Talk to you soon.

Welcome back! I hope you were able to brainstorm a lot of ideas of what you would like to achieve. So, let’s say my new year’s resolution was to become fluent in French. It may sound specific even though it is a huge concept, but how am I going to measure if I have achieved it or not? Is it when I can have a 10-minute conversation with a native speaker about a topic related to my work, or is it when I can order in a restaurant without hesitating, or is it when I can laugh at jokes in French? Start thinking of a goal that can be narrowed down to its simplest part.

Next, is your goal attainable. You will tell me that everything can be attained if you put the effort in. Are you ready to dedicate your time and efforts to achieve that goal, no matter what that means? Would it require practicing every day? Hiring a coach? Spending a few weeks in Québec, France or an African country?

How is that goal relevant or realistic to your current situation? Can you realistically spend 2 hours a day to study and practice? Can you afford a 4-week trip in the summer? With a busy job and maybe kids and a spouse in the mix, be as realistic as possible or rearrange your schedule to make it work.

And finally, your goal has to be time-bound with a clear date so that you can check on that date and reflect on your progress. It gives you a chance to assess if everything you thought in the first place made sense. There is no need to beat yourself up about it, but maybe some family issues came up that derailed you from your goal. Just get back on track and set up a new goal that would be more realistic. You can also find an accountability buddy, tell your friends on Facebook and have someone check up on you to see how you are doing.

This is an on-going exercise that you can apply to many different areas of your life. On a language learning perspective, as a neurolanguage coach, I divide my clients’ goals into two categories: the mechanicals aspects of the language like verb tenses, sentence structure, etc… and the mastery of the language like vocabulary and pronunciation.

We will look at those categories more specifically in the next 2 episodes. But for now, let’s see what a SMART goal looks like. Instead of saying “I want to be fluent in French”, how about: “I want to be able to order dinner at a restaurant during my next road trip in Quebec City. To do so, I will dedicate 30 minutes every night from 8:30 to 9:00pm after the kids go to bed for a period of 4 weeks, starting next Monday.”

Isn’t it more motivating? Now I just need to come up with an action plan of what I will do during those 30 x 30-minute sessions and I am on a path to success.

If you need a buddy to keep you accountable to go to the gym, why not partner up with a friend?

Alright folks, that was a lot of information for today. We looked at your motivation to learn French and painted a vivid vision of it to keep us motivated throughout the journey. We also started understanding how to create goals that propel you to success and leave you positive about the outcome. Now go back to your workbook and try to make your brainstormed goals into SMART goals. Feel free to send them my way and I will be happy to review them and help you out if you need. In the next episode, we will delve deeper into how to set up mechanical goals and create a clear action plan to achieve them. Happy brainstorming and talk to you soon!

A bit confused? Need additional help?