When I started this blog, I made a point that it is important it is to have clearly defined goals by which to measure success, and then I laid out some goals for this year.
Today, I came upon these comments over at 52 Languages, 52 Weeks:
To his credit, he is aiming for absolute fluency and he lays out his definition for "fluent" quite clearly. His other goals, though, aren't very ambitious: by the end of the year he will start a chat session with someone in Italian, Skype with someone in Italian, and meet a local Italian-speaking friend. (Honestly, that should take about a week to accomplish, not a whole year.) Nevertheless, it is further proof that given the right motivations it does not a lifetime to conquer a language.
And I think the author is right. When I first wrote my goals, I knew I wanted to make them easy for anyone to relate to, in order to not scare off any readers who might fear it's too much to accomplish in one year. As it turns out, I may have been a little too soft, and probably not specific enough.
My updated goals for Italian fluency
Always remember that the true goal is fluency. The point of these other goals is simply to measure that fluency; that is, to prove that I have achieved it. Now that I've had a little more time to think about what that means, and what I should be able to accomplish after a year of study, these are my new goals for 2010:
- I should be able to chat with new friends online about general subjects without using any translator or dictionary
- I should be able to read an article from an Italian newspaper or news web site, and be able understand and summarize it without any help from a translator or dictionary. I don't need to know every word, but I need to understand the details of the event being discussed.
- I should be able to read one entire book written in Italian. It will be okay to look up words I don't know. There's a good chance that this will be Dante's Divine Comedy.
- I should be able to comfortably retell a joke in Italian.
- I should be comfortable expressing my personality through the language as I do in English, by making silly jokes, puns, wordplay, and flirting in conversation.
- I should be able to watch a movie in Italian without subtitles and understand what's going on.
- I should be able to download a short news clip in Italian and understand it. (This is harder. News anchors always talk extremely fast!)
- And finally, I should be able to have a 10-minute conversation with someone in person, without using English.
As the year goes on, I will check off the items on this list as I accomplish them, with the intention that, before 2010 is over, I will have successfully completed each one of my goals, thus proving to myself that I am, in fact, fluent in Italian.
Have I missed something? Do you think there's something else that should be on the list? Am I still being to easy on myself? And what about you; what are your language goals?
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.