1. “I will seek out peer support”
As any language learner quickly realizes, what you encounter in a book or in a classroom, and what you encounter in the “real world,” can be very different. Thus, book learning alone is unlikely to lead to fluency.
A great way to overcome this challenge is to identify a person or a group of people with whom you can practice the practical application of your skills. This peer support can occur in a more formal environment, like a campus language group, or in a less formal environment like a dinner with friends. Aim for a mix of native and non-native speakers who can help you grow your abilities and feel supported in your endeavor.
2. “I will capitalize on practice opportunities”
The saying “Practice makes perfect,” may be well worn, but it is well worn for a reason—it is true. If you hope to improve your language skills, you will need to apply them often and in various contexts. Think of places where you can practice, like casual public speaking engagements, restaurants, or other creative outlets. Language works differently in different environments, so by varying the areas in which you practice, you may find one that is very effective.
3. “I will embrace writing opportunities”
Like speaking, learning to write in a second language can be challenging. We tend to write differently than we speak, and there are often more rigid rules for writing than there are for speaking.
If you are an international student, you are likely required to write in your second language on a regular basis, but academic writing is only one type of writing. So, look for other opportunities, especially those that are outside of your comfort zone. For example, if you are confident in your technical writing abilities, set a resolution that you will find a number of opportunities to practice your creative writing in the coming year.
4. “I will expand my vocabulary”
This may seem like an obvious goal (and it may even be one that you are already addressing), but that does not mean that it is not important. A strong command of any language requires a well-developed vocabulary that extends beyond that in textbooks or language apps. Perhaps you decide to set a goal to learn a specific number of new words each month, ideally across multiple contexts. For example, you might spend one month learning 10 new words that are commonly used in your field of study, while next month, you focus on 10 phrases that you might use in a doctor’s office.
5. “I will improve my use of slang and humor”
It is often said that English is a difficult language to learn, which is in part due to the slang, idioms, and colloquialisms that we use regularly. These aspects of the English tongue can defy the basic rules of the language, effectively confusing non-native speakers. Given this fact, you might set a goal of improving your understanding and use of humor and slang by practicing with native speakers or by watching television series and films.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.