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Rate Yourself
Define Language Needs
Your Foreign Language Standards

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Define language needs. Evaluate your progress. Both are essential in language learning. If you don’t know where you are and where you’re going, you’ll have a hard time knowing when you get there, right? Maybe…

Most of us have always left these important steps to someone else – we expect The Teacher to define language needs, usually based on some foreign language standards, then test our second language acquisition so he'll know how we're doing. When we try learning on our own, we skip these tasks entirely because we’re too busy figuring out how we’re going to learn a language from the resources at hand – TV, newspaper, books, friends, tapes or CDs.

This section offers four handy guides--a user friendly set of foreign language standards--that will help you both define language needs and evaluate your progress. If you are ready to test your second language acquisition, go directly to the page you think approximates your ability – beginner, intermediate, advanced, or distinguished. But at some point, we encourage everyone to take a look at the tips below so you get the most out of your efforts.

Note: You can download all of the tips below along with other techniques you won't find in this website. Follow step-by-step instructions to create your own langugae learning program. Click here to get your own copy of the Walkabout Language Learning Action Guide.

How to Set Goals: Tips and Tricks

Setting goals is Language Learning Strategy 1. It is an important first step in your self guided language study. The following tips will help you focus your study.

Define language needs? Decide what skills are most important to you. Is it speaking and listening? Reading and writing? All four? This will help you define language needs so that you can focus your time and energy on the skills most important to you.

Decide what content is most important. Do you need to get around when you travel? Get you through your daily work? Do you have to understand or convey complex instructions in another language? Or do you simply want to communicate with new family members? Focus on what is important to you.

Rate yourself now – and as you learn. As you set goals--well-defined ones--you build a roadmap to rate your progress toward second language acquisition. We have made this self-testing easier by including a few typical tasks at each level. Figure out where you are now: this helps you start at the right point. Then regularly measure your progress against your goals. Be sure to revise your goals as you become more proficient and add specific capabilities you want to learn. You'll return to this step over and over to help you define language needs that are most meaningful for you. You'll build your own set of foreign language standards as you go.

Think in terms of skill clusters. For example, just knowing how to say “hello” and “goodbye” is not enough to show mastery of greetings and leave-takings (See Beginner, Level 1). In English, we would expect a variation or two, such as “hi,” “howdy,” or “what’s up,” plus “so long,” “see ya later,” or “bye-bye.” Strive to master the broad concepts of your personalized foreign language standards. Don’t be satisfied memorizing narrow definitions.

Be specific when you define language needs. Set goals and objectives for yourself. Go beyond a goal such as, “I want to be able to talk to my grandchildren.” Go for something tangible as well, such as “I want to be able to tell my grandson at least three hilarious family stories about his mother.”

Set timelines for meeting each objective. We all need a kick in the rear now and then. Realistic timelines keep you moving toward second language acquisition.

Reward yourself when you meet each objective. Take a five minute break. Or two hours. Brag – a little bit. Eat a chocolate éclair or sip a cappuccino – whatever keeps you motivated.

Ready to start boost your skills to the next level? This book is packed with ideas to speed your language learning efforts.

Feeling bold? Measure your second language acquisition!

We’ve put together four simple checklists that will help you define your language needs, set goals, and rate your progress. Before you go on, though, take a moment to download a special report "How to take your language learning to the next level."

Click if you are a Beginning Language Learner,

Are you an Intermediate Language Learner? You’re on a roll!

An Advanced Language Learner? Congratulations!

Have you risen to the Distinguished Level? Don’t stop now!

Wondering where these foreign language standards came from? We didn’t dream them up out of thin air. To check the rating scale’s pedagogy, click here.

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Set Goals

What do you mean when you say you want to learn a new language? What do you want to be able to do in the language? Maybe you just want to be able to buy things in a shop or ask directions. Maybe you want to feel comfortable living in a country and making friends. Or will you need to use the language to communicate subtle distinctions in your work as well as in your everyday life?

The answers to these questions will help determine your language learning goals. The more specific you can be about your goals, the better you will know whether or not you have met them.

--Carol Orwig, Managing Your Language Learning Program

Now Available Study Abroad Handbook

Planning to study abroad? Having a hard time choosing a program?

Check out our helpful guide "How to Choose an International Study Abroad Program."

Best of all, it's a FREE download.

Multicultural Literature

Check out the latest additions to our multicultural literature section: Multicultural Stories.

This section offers both fictional and non-fictional stories and essays set in regions around the world. You can read them on line for FREE.

The Whole World Guide

Love the ideas and language learning tips here in our website? Want to learn more about the Walkabout method? Buy your own copy of The Whole World Guide to Language Learning: How to live and learn any foreign language.

This book is chock full of ideas on how to use Walkabout language learning. It has sample lesson plans as well as language learning drills and practice tips. Order your copy today.

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