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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I promise that I will do my best...

Like most people, I like to start in New Year in a positive way, by making one or two lifestyle changes or at least trying to approach things with more enthusiasm and a more positive attitude. After the Christmas break, I need my students to throw themselves back into language learning with all the energy they can muster, especially if they are going to be sitting an external exam in the next few months. So I decided to encourage my adult learners to make New Year's English Resolutions.

These resolutions consist of a set of objectives that they will aim to reach over the following term, and how they plan to achieve these objectives.

We started the lesson talking about New Year's Resolutions generally - have they made any? What are they? Have they made a resolution before? Did they stick to it? Why(not)?

I shared my own ideas about why people often fail to maintain their resolutions, which are
1) lack of planning (I think you need to say what you are going to do and when)
2) lack of intrinsic motivation (people make resolutions in January because it is traditional, and often don't even expect to keep their promises)

and advice on how to keep your resolutions:
1) Make a plan or timetable to keep a record of what you want to do and keep it somewhere visible.
2) Tell as many people as possible, share it on all your social networks (peer pressure can work!)

I then told the students that we were going to come up with English Resolutions. They had to come up with a list of objectives, both general and specific, about what they expected to achieve over the next two months. As an example of the difference between general and specific objectives, I gave the following example:

I want to improve my vocabulary  - general
I want to learn at least 5 new words every day - specific
They also had to suggest how they could achieve those objectives - what would they do in order to learn 5 new words every day?

The students then shared their objectives with the rest of the class and we drew up a list of common goals, on which we would spend valuable class time. The more individual objectives would remain the responsibility of each student to work on in their free time.

At the end of the lesson, we had a list of areas on which most of the class wanted to work on, which I will integrate into our syllabus for the term, and each student had a list of things they plan to do each week at home. Some of them seem slightly over-ambitious ("I am going to watch at least one film in English a week, read a book in English, make my own vocabulary lists, do at least one writing task and study my grammar book") but I plan to regularly ask students how they are getting on and allow them to modify their objectives if they are not realistically possible.

Finally, I pledged to mark written work within a week, correct all homework exercises in class when they are due, and to add new vocabulary to our Memrise list every week.
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