Don’t you wish that the initial feeling of excitement you get when you start learning something new never ended? Sure, it would be great to have endless supplies of motivation, but, in reality, the initial thrill can wear off all too easily unless you work on maintaining it.
One of the ideas to keep yourself motivated is tracking your progress. It works in language learning just as well as it does in other areas. I don’t like to look at planning or tracking as a kind of chore – they’re meant to be fun! Yes, just like we’re meant to have fun in the classroom. Speaking of which, I’m sure that at one point or another, you’ve played bingo – the game where you get a grid (usually there are either 6 or 9 squares)with pictures or words. The items on your card are not the same as other players – there will be at least a few differences. As the teacher calls the words out, you cross out the words you hear on your card. The aim is to cross out all the items, and the person who does it first wins. They announce it to the others by shouting out BINGO!
What does it have to do with planning and tracking, you may ask. Well, the game of bingo has a zillion of different versions, and recently has even been adapted to fit with the mindfulness trend. So why wouldn’t we create a version for keeping an eye on language learning?
There are a few ways of going about it – you can prepare a simple grid, with the number of squares corresponding with the period you want to use it for – it can be a task a day, if you like. I’d suggest using it for a week first to see if it’s for you. The number of fields shouldn’t be too high, remember that you’ll have other things to do apart from your language bingo. 😊 If you give yourself too many tasks and can’t fulfil them, you’ll feel like you’re failing and probably abandon the idea altogether. Start gently – with 6 achievable goals. You can go for generic ones, like practise listening/reading etc. – you have a few examples in the picture below.
Aim to include a balance of different skills, instead of only practising what’s easiest – that’s cheating. 😉 You can also make your goals very specific in different areas. Here are a few suggestions of what precise, focused goals might be:
✵Watch a TED talk (title / topic)
✵Read the transcript of a TED talk and pick 5 new words or expressions to learn from it
✵Read the news in a foreign language
✵Read an article in a tabloid (yes! – simple, but natural language)
✵Read an article in a serious newspaper (for high-level, or specialist language)
✵Read a book (or at least a chapter!) in a foreign language, it can be a reader version
✵Watch a film / Tv series with subtitles in the foreign language
✵Watch a film / TV series in a foreign language without subtitles
✵Read a blog in a foreign language
✵Listen to a podcast in a foreign language
✵Use Lyrics training
✵Listen to a song and learn 3 new words/expressions from it
✵Create a Quizlet set with vocabulary from… / about…
✵Record yourself speaking a foreign language on your phone (I know, it takes some time to warm to this idea – but it works!)
✵Record a short Youtube / TikTok video – talk about your language learning, hobbies – anything you want
✵Post on Facebook or Instagram in a foreign language (under the caption in your own language – you’ll see how much support you can get if you explain to your friends why you’re doing it)
✵Follow (on Instagram or Facebook) a person who speaks the language you are learning and comment on their posts
✵Change the language on your phone to the language you are learning (note down the steps to switch back, just to be on the safe side!)
✵Start writing a blog in a foreign language
✵Agree with a friend learning the same foreign language to speak only in the foreign language for half an hour /an hour
✵Use a language exchange platform to practise speaking in a foreign language
✵Talk to your pet in a foreign language – tell them about your day
✵Use a vocabulary app (BabaDum, Quizlet, Brainscape, Clozemaster – and many others)
✵Find a website with online exercises to practise the language point you find difficult
✵If you’re preparing for a language exam, working on a particular skill may be your goal
Once you’ve decided on the time period to play your language bingo and the goals to go onto your grid, it’s time to start the fun part. Let’s say you’ve got a week. Each time you do one of the tasks, you cross it out. Ideally, at the end of the week you’ll be able to shout out: BINGO!
Remember, though, that unlike in a classroom, here it’s not about crossing all items as quickly as possible but making the most of them. As you are playing on your own, it’s very easy to be the winner, all you nee to do is complete the tasks. Make sure you pick something enjoyable, after all it’s meant to be fun. You can also set a prize for winning the language bingo game!
Let me know how you did with your bingo, I’m sure you’ll be able to add more ideas to the ones listed above – I’d love it if you shared them with me in the comment.