Mini goals for my bigger goal and my even bigger goal

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After reading the book The1thing I’ve found that having smaller non impressive goals that make up a bigger goals that make up an even bigger goal are better than just..”one day I will do this”.I highly recommend this book it has certainly given me enough information on how to set goals and succeed in my language studies. I won’t try and summarise it here though just check out the link provided.

Another great resource on this topic is from one of my language hero’s Benny Lewis on mini-goals.

Here is my 3 month goal (Bigger goal)

Here is my one month goal (Big goal) to end at the beginning of October broken down into mini goals that can be achievable and will make up something big if all done. Hopefully resulting domino effect as mentioned in The1Thing:

  1. Anki droid flash cards 5 times a week – 100 cards
  2. 3 language exchange sessions a week – this is the most important one. If I can’t do 3 one week then I have to make it up the next week. This is priority! Everything else does not matter compared to this.
  3. Listen to Pimsleur Eastern Arabic daily on the way to work and back in my car – usually 40 minutes there and 40 minutes back. I have no specific goal for where I should be on the course, I aim to have done most of level one.
  4. TalkInArabic – Take the content from Beginner from TalkInArabic and add to Anki droid flash cards for daily practice. These contain many themes such as greetings and much more. Lots of great stuff ranging from beginner to advanced. By adding them to my Anki flash cards I can memorise them. I pretty much know most of the beginner level but it’s good to have them saved in my flash card list.
  5. Pimsleur flash cards – just like the Michel Thomas course I used I will need to take them time to add these flash cards to Anki. I’m aiming to take 15 out of the 30 tracks and add them to my flash cards.
  6. Write a list of subjects I can talk about on my exchange sessions – very useful so I know what areas I am good at and what need to work on. Having these in a notepad will be very helpful if I get stuck with what to talk about.
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Common European framework of reference for languages

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I mentioned this in my post about my new goals. Polygots such as Benny Lewis use it as a way to measure their language ability. As I mentioned I spoke to two different native speakers about my level and asked them to measure my current level based on the CEFR and also to just tell it like it is. Both said I am at level A2/B1. I am looking to have a solid footing in B1 so I can move onto B2. Here is the full link to CEFR on Wikipedia explaining in more detail.

A1 – breakthrough or beginner

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.

Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.

Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2 – way stage or elementary

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B1 – threshold or intermediate

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.

Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.

Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2 – vantage or upper immediate

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization.

Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.

Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

C1 – Effective operational proficiency or advanced

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning.Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.

Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

C2 – master or proficiency

Understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.

Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

New study materials – finding what’s good for me

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As I might of mentioned I’m a very busy person. I have a full time job, a wife, two kids and train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My time is pretty limited. Because of this I have realised not all study materials are suitable for me. There’s lots of great stuff out there but due to my circumstances they’re not ideal for me.
I have tried to work from the Syrian Arabic course which is fantastic, it has so much great content. There is also lots of other great books out there but just not suitable to my situation.

After looking at my situation I came to the conclusion that I have no time to study from books or even sit down and study. I would love to be able to sit and study from a book practicing my reading and writing but I just don’t have the time. After trying to study the materials from the Syrian Arabic course using just the audio I found I was not progressing that much as I was not using the book.
I then looked back at what worked best for me which was the Michel Thomas sets. These were great for me because I didn’t have to read any texts and could listen to them whilst driving to and from work. This takes over an hour a day of my time, which is enough for daily study.

New study materials

After doing some thinking and research into the products currently available I decided that learning Egyptian Arabic was not for me. I never wanted to learn Egyptian Arabic but the market has no Levant Arabic materials…or so I thought. There are also not many teachers from the Levant area but there are many from Egypt.
My origin is Palestinian and I need to speak the Sham dialect. So I had a good look around online and stumbled across a great site:

Talk In Arabic

This is run by one of my language heroes Donovan Nagel who is fluent in Arabic and other languages. He also runs a really good blog which is really useful for guys like me. He could see that the market is missing Colloquial Arabic materials for the sham dialect. It also offers other dialects. It is also updated regularly with audio and video content. This is perfect for me!

I also managed to get a copy of Pimsleur Eastern Arabic 1,2 and 3. The costs are very high but I managed to get it from my local library 😉

Pimsleur is 100% audio based which means I can study in my car on the way to work. TalkInArabic is also mainly audio based. These two are ideal for me as they specialise in the Levant dialect and are audio based.

What I have learnt is that my situation is not the same as everyone else’s. To achieve my goals I need something that can work with the time I have free.

New goal – now until December

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I have been using the agile methodology for quite sometime and found that it’s a bit boring as I use it every day in work. So I’ve decided to make things more interesting and create a new goal. After some thought about what goals to plan and where to begin I remember coming across the CEFR (common European framework of reference for languages) some time ago to guage a person’s level in a language.
So I have decided from now until the end of the year I want to move up a level from where I currently am in my Arabic journey. I believe it is important to guage what level someone’s skill are at instead of just plodding along.

I spoke to two different native Arabic speakers about my current level and they both said I am at level A2/B1. I also asked them to not be nice and just tell it like it is. Of course I would love to be higher up in this scale. I look at it this way, I have studied on my own to get this far whilst having a full time job, a wife, two children and also training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The goal:

I plan to strengthen my skills at B1 and then move onto B2 (vantage or upper intermediate). I will do this by building up more vocabulary and more language exchange sessions. I will perform self study with the materials I have and have lessons where needed.

The date:

31st December is the point I will achieve these goals by

I will be looking to have a minimum of two language exchange sessions a week. If I cannot do it one week I will make it up the next.