English Study Tip: How to Work with Goals

goals and books

Learning a new language can be challenging. There is much to learn: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, conversation skills. Every day you will find new words and phrases that you do not understand. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. 

Take control of your learning by setting goals!

A goal is something you are trying to do or achieve. It is the end result of hard work. 

Setting clear, achievable goals is one of the most important things you can do when learning English. 

So you want to learn English? That is a great goal! How are you going to reach your goal? 

set targets when learning English

How to Set Goals


Click here to watch this lesson as a video.

Video: English Study Tip: How to Work with Goals


1. Identify your main goals.

The first step is to identify your main goal.

Ask yourself this question: Why do I want to learn English?

Maybe you want to learn English so you can travel to the United States for a holiday. Maybe you plan to immigrate to the United States (or another English speaking country). Or maybe you want to learn English to be able to communicate with friends online.

why learn English

2. Break the goal down into specific steps.

The second step is to break your goal down into steps.

Ask yourself this question: What do I need to learn or do to reach my goal?

Write down some of the specific tasks that will help you reach your goal.

For example, if your goal is to learn English to visit the United States for a vacation, you might have these specific steps:

  • Learn phrases for travel (airport, taxis, trains, buses)

  • Learn vocabulary and phrases to communicate at your destination

  • Learn phrases for the hotel

  • Learn phrases for restaurants

  • Learn common greetings

  • Learn phrases for common problems that may occur (lost luggage, lost passport, need directions, need medical help)

English for the airport

3. Identify short-term goals.

Now, you can set specific short-term goals. These are smaller goals that you can reach in a shorter amount of time such as 1 week.

Look at the steps. Write down short-term goals that will help you reach each step. Set deadlines for each short-term goal. A deadline is a specific time when something must be finished.

For example, let’s look at the steps listed earlier.

Step 1: Learn phrases for travel (airport, taxis, trains, buses)

Examples of short-term goals for this step:

By the end of week 1, I will have learned common words and phrases needed in an airport.

By the end of week 2, I will have learned common words and phrases to travel on a train or bus.

(By doing this, you can also practice the future perfect tense.)

English for travel


Here are a few helpful tips to remember when setting goals.

A. Write down your goals.

It is easier to remember your goals if you can see them.

write down your goals

B. Challenge yourself, but set goals that you can actually do.

Then, once you have set that goal, make sure you achieve it!

Like a smart billionaire once said “Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions. When you start rethinking your targets, making up excuses, and letting yourself off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams!” — Grant Cardone
(“to let yourself off the hook” means to release yourself from an obligation.)

In other words, no need to give up. Increase your productivity or change your method, if you need to. But any goal can be achieved if you persist :-)


C. Set deadlines.

Deadlines help you reach your goals.

Give your main goal a deadline. For example: By December, I will speak enough English to travel to the United States for a holiday.

Use shorter deadlines for short-term goals. For example: By the end of this week, I will have learned common words and phrases to travel by bus.


D. Check your goals regularly and adjust/improve your method as needed.

Check your progress every few days. This will help you decide what to study next. Adjust and improve your method as needed to help you reach your main goal. 

study together


  1. Identify a goal that you want to accomplish this month.

  2. List the steps to reach the goal.

  3. Write your short-term goals with deadlines.


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