Step-by-step guide: How effective goal-setting can help you learn Arabic

Just like any language or skill, if you’re trying to learn Arabic, one of the most important things you need to do to ensure you make consistent progress is to set goals you can track and achieve.

We’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you get clear on WHY you want to learn Arabic in the first place, show you how to set goals that are S.M.A.R.T., guide you in tracking your progress, and most importantly, help you stay motivated and on track to reach your Arabic learning goals.

Learn Arabic at home for free

Whatever your current level of ability, if you want to consistently improve your Arabic, the following steps are absolutely ESSENTIAL:

Step 1: Find your WHY

This might sound obvious, but so many people fail to make progress with Arabic because they’re not clear on what they’re trying to achieve and WHY they want to learn the language in the first place.

Perhaps you want to learn because you’ve always wanted to travel around the Middle East; Maybe you have a longstanding love affair with Morocco and you want to be able to converse with the local people; You might want to improve your skills to help you achieve your professional goals, or so you can volunteer at a refugee camp or travel to the Holy Land for a religious pilgrimage…

There are SO many reasons why people learn Arabic, but the truth is, unless you’re crystal clear on what motivates YOU and are truly connected to that purpose, you simply won’t have the drive you need to keep going when it gets tough. So journal, dream, take a walk – whatever it takes to get you thinking clearly about why you’re learning Arabic. This is the MOST important step you can take to ensure that your Arabic study habit will stick.

If you need some inspiration, check out our post, ‘5 reasons why you should learn Arabic’!

Once you’re clear on why you want to study Arabic, write it down! If you have a notepad or vocab book you’re using, write your ‘WHY’ on the first page so you can keep going back to it when you’re feeling stuck to remind you why you decided to do this. Write it on a post-it and stick it to your laptop, print up a fancy graphic to pin up on your wall – just make sure your WHY is somewhere you’ll see it, so you can always find the motivation you need to keep going.

Travel in the Middle East

Step 2: Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: How exactly do you want to improve – is it your reading, listening, speaking, translation, vocabulary, or a dialect…? Or maybe a combination of these? Again, this depends on WHY you’re learning in the first place (still not sure? Try reviewing Step 1).

How many new words do you want to learn every week? If you’re learning for a particular purpose, is there a certain topic, dialect, or set of vocabulary that you need to master? Get specific on what exactly you want to achieve from your practice and WRITE IT DOWN.

Measurable: Make sure you set goals that allow you to track your progress. For example, if your goal is to ‘Get better at Arabic’, what does that mean? What does success look like for you and how can you break it down so you can track your progress over time? Try and think of things you can quantify and measure. For example, it might be the number of new words you’ve learned, the number of topics you’ve covered, online videos watched, articles read or minutes spent practicing speaking out loud.

Achievable: There’s a difference between goals that are ambitious and goals that are unachievable. If your goal is to be fluent within a month, I hate to burst your bubble but it’s probably not going to happen (unless you’re studying full time and already have a solid level of Arabic, or you’re superwoman). Be honest with yourself – when you set goals you know you can’t achieve, all you’re doing is setting yourself up to fail. Think about your why and the time you have available, and break bigger goals into smaller steps that will bring you closer to where you want to be. Having lots of little wins will help you remain consistent and achieve success!

Realistic: Be realistic when deciding how much time you can commit. For example, if you work full time, have kids at home and hobbies or other commitments which take up your evenings and weekends, it’s probably not realistic to say you’ll spend 2 hours a day learning Arabic. Think carefully about what’s realistic for you and what works with your current schedule. If it’s 2 hours a day, awesome; If it’s 5 minutes – great! Any time you can commit is better than nothing. Being realistic from the beginning is key to building a habit that sticks.

Time-bound: Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, decide WHEN you want to achieve it. Try and break down your goals into mini-steps to achieve every day, week, or month, to make sure you’re staying on track.

how to self-study Arabic

Step 3: Write it down!

Did you know, studies show you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down? When we take our goals from the far-flung corners of our mind and put them on paper, we’re subconsciously upping our commitment to achieving them. They go from being abstract ideas to tangible successes that we can start working towards.

So once you’ve established your WHY and decided on S.M.A.R.T. goals that reflect that purpose, write them down somewhere you’ll see them every day – it might be in your planner, in a note on your phone, or in a list you can stick on your wall… It doesn’t matter where, just write them down!

Studies also show that sharing your goals with other people makes you more likely to achieve them. Try telling a friend or family member what you’re working towards, or even better, find someone who’s also working on their Arabic to be your accountability partner. You could arrange to meet for coffee, either in person or virtually, and work on your goals together. You could then schedule regular catch ups to discuss your progress and hold each other accountable!

set your goals for learning Arabic

Step 4: Review your progress and update your goals

Schedule in regular times to review your progress, and remember, your goals should NOT be set in stone! If you’re getting to the end of the month and you know you’re not going to meet your goal, you can always revise it. Things will inevitably change as you go along and it’s highly likely something unexpected will pop up and force you to change course.

This is why it’s important to be flexible and honest with yourself.

If you’re not willing to review and revise your goals as you go, you’ll likely struggle to keep moving if you fall behind. From the very beginning, make sure you schedule in weekly or monthly review sessions to look back at what you’ve achieved and make sure your goals are still S.M.A.R.T. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it takes you longer than you thought it would to achieve your goal, what matters is that you KEEP GOING.

Step 5: Celebrate your wins

Finally, make sure you celebrate your wins! If you stick to your plan for the week or meet your monthly vocabulary target, celebrate what you’ve achieved before you move onto the next goal. Treat yourself with a tasty treat or a day off – the sense of achievement will keep you motivated and moving forward. And remember, even the smallest wins add up to something bigger if they’re consistent!

Learning Arabic - celebrate your wins!

That’s it – 5 simple steps to make sure your Arabic-learning goals set you up for success! We hope you’ve found this helpful. Let us know in the comments below what your Arabic goals are and how you’re planning to achieve them!

Once you’ve set your goals, check out our other posts on learning Arabic:

7 essential resources for Arabic students

MSA vs Arabic dialect: Which should you learn?

 

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