How much progress can you make in 30 days?
Probably more than you think.Back when I was a translator, everyone I worked with had to pass annual proficiency exams.
The reality of any language-related job is that you’re not always pushing yourself day in, day out. A large portion of your time may be related to administrative, non-language-related tasks. Or maybe your work deals excessively with technical or legal jargon, with very little exposure to language variety. Or maybe you’re slacking off and doing the bare minimum.
Where I worked, many people’s language skills would atrophy throughout the year. So before our tests, we would often get a month of refresher training.
The refresher class usually lasted a month. It was at an intermediate or advanced level, and it consisted of seven hours a day of language classes, followed by occasional homework.
Honestly, not every refresher class produced great results. But for the majority of people I worked with, the classes were enough to maintain their proficiency scores, and sometimes even improve them.
After one such class, for example, I actually went up two proficiency levels in Arabic listening, from a level 2 to a 3 (bypassing 2+).
30 Days is a Lot of Progress
My point is simply this: You can make a lot of progress in 30 days.
Will you go from beginner to advanced? Probably not.
Will you go up an entire proficiency level? It’s possible, but definitely not guaranteed.
Will you go from having no knowledge of the language to fluent? Absolutely not.
If you buckle down for the next month, you can make noticeable, tangible improvement in your language abilities.
My December 30-Day Push
For the next 30 days, from December 1 to December 30, I’m going to buckle down and really try to bring my Tagalog up.
My ultimate goal is “improvement”–admittedly, not a very S.M.A.R.T. goal. But instead of focusing on the destination, I want to zero in on my day-to-day behaviors. The improvement will come as a consequence of the work.
Every day I’m going to do the following:
- Learn 15 new vocab words/phrases
- Get in one hour of free listening
- Get in 15-30 minutes of talking to myself
If you’ve read my book Language Master Key, you’ll see this is pretty similar to the basic template. There’s a studying activity, a free listening activity, and a speaking activity.
I’m anticipating that the free listening will help me turn the corner and really help Tagalog take root in my brain.
Come Join Along
Why December? Why not wait until January 1 like everyone else?
First, if you wait a month, you’re robbing yourself of 30 days of progress you could be making right now.
Second, you’re going to get caught up in the excitement of new year’s resolutions, so you’ll get a burst of motivation after you’ve already made good progress. Do this right, and you could easily segue into two or three months of improvement.
Third, I’ve come to realize this site is tailored for serious language learners–simply, that this site is for people who take their language learning goals seriously and are willing to put in the work. Starting now is a good way to get your mindset right and show yourself that you’re different from the January 1st crowd, who traditionally make goals and don’t stick with them.
So I want you to get in on this with me. Basically:
- Commit to 30 days of increased effort.
- Come up with a goal, even if it’s simply “improvement.”
- Come up with a specific studying plan that intensifies your studying aggressively, but realistically.
- Focus on your day-to-day behaviors.
Important: One thing I’d caution against is focusing too much on textbooks or courses. Try to keep things as fun as possible. For every hour of effort, I’d recommend at least a half hour of that be fun stuff, like watching TV or reading comic books.
If you choose to play at home, let me know! I want to hear about your progress and experiences.
And as always, don’t hesitate to hit me up if you have any questions or need help.