I’ve never been one to set New Year’s resolutions, but when it comes to language learning goals, this year I’m all in. Language learning has been a constant friend to me. It’s become a part of my daily life more and more each year.
Setting goals for my target languages this year seems like a natural step. This is this first time I’ll create formal goals for myself. I’ve typically just lived in the moment, studying languages as the appropriate moment arrived. Ironically, I’ve now started studying 3 foreign languages in the month of December 3 out of the last four years. Portuguese, Mandarin, and, as of yesterday, Dutch. Nothing about that was intentional but being on the verge of starting a new year has always added some excitement to starting a new language. It adds clarity to the potential progress you’ll make in your target language as you make your way through the new year.
2022 will not only be a year of new languages but also about maintaining those I’ve already learned. Starting a new language is exciting, it’s a new but continuous journey that’s been built by other languages. Knowledge compounds.
One reason I ultimately chose to study Dutch was because I expect my knowledge of German to benefit me. I’m also expecting studying Dutch to help to maintain and improve my German. My experience studying Spanish this year has taught me a lesson about studying very closely related languages. It’s always something I’ve been afraid of but Spanish and Portuguese seemed to aid each other at times. I’ve been reading Don Quixote in Spanish. The book’s more than 400-year-old vocabulary has a lot of antiquated similarities to Portuguese, like using mas instead of pero for the word but.
My Design for Language Learning Goals in 2022
I recently wrote an article discussing how many languages someone could learn in a year, decade, and lifetime. The intuition behind study hours that I used there will be similar for designing my language goals for 2022. I have a very good sense of how many hours I dedicate to languages each week. Therefore, I’ll be using this to estimate how much progress I can realistically make in my languages.
My hours are a little tricky to break down outright because of personal circumstances which I’ll explain as I go through goals for each language. One language that I study will be used on a daily basis regardless of whether or not I dedicate time to deliberately study it. Languages that I’m maintaining are also tricky because I’ll likely set aside an hour or two each week for conversation practice and TV series or movies. I may not set a concrete day of the week for this though in order to give myself flexibility. Given all this I’ll summarize my forecasted study hours at the end of the article.
One significant element that I’m considering when setting my language learning goals is travel. I have less than concrete plans to travel to Germany and likely other places in Europe for September 2022. This is something I’ll heavily factor in in terms of how much I expect myself to dedicate to languages relevant to this trip.
Spanish – Reach Advanced C1
Spanish is that language that I mentioned I speak every day. My girlfriend is a native speaker and I’m in contact with the language on a daily basis. It’s the primary language we use to communicate. Part of the reason I decided to start studying Dutch was because I simply don’t feel the need to deliberately study Spanish at this point. Setting aside 15 minutes a day in LingQ to study Spanish doesn’t seem as purposeful when you’re speaking or writing several hours a day in the language.
Nonetheless, my 2022 language learning goals will include some deliberate studying in Spanish but in a less proactive form than 2021. You may have noticed that I wrote reaching C1 as the Spanish header. I plan on accomplishing this through the conversations I have with native speakers, not just my girlfriend but also family, friends, and italki tutors. Watching movies and series will also play a big part in this. My goal is to watch 2 hours of content in Spanish per week at a minimum. I’d also like to finish reading the first volume of Don Quixote on LingQ, then read it a second time in 2022.
As a concrete assumption, I’m going to expect to engage in Spanish 3 hours a day at a minimum. I couldn’t tell you the exact moment I hit a B2 level in Spanish, but I’d say that I’m comfortably there now.
Based on an old video interview between Jan from the Jan & Lucas – Language Boost YouTube channel and Luca Lampariello, I believe I could reach C1 in 400 hours of Spanish practice. (Luca mentions going from B2 to C1 in 3 months studying 4 to 5 hours a day, that’s between 360 and 450 hours, respectively.) Studying 3 hours a day I could reach that in 134 days or 4 and a half months. Based on this estimate, I’d reach C1 in mid-May. In general, this appears to be a very achievable goal.
Articles on learning Spanish:
German – Maintain B2, Reach for C1 Pending a Scheduled Trip to Germany
German has been a sort of neglected second child the past few years. It was my first foreign language but a motive to study it has been non-existent for the past 3 years. After a 2-year hiatus while studying Portuguese, I periodically studied the language again.
My language learning goals in 2022 for German will ultimately be travel dependent. At the very least I’ll try to maintain a B2 in German. I may even have to regain a B2 proficiency to some extent. My vocabulary has mostly seemed to stay intact over the last few years. When I go to speak though, the quality of my skillset can be hit or miss. I need to regain some consistency in my speaking ability.
If I do decide to travel to Germany next year, I’ll likely make German a priority in my life some months before leaving. Given this unknown variable, knowing how many hours I spend studying has two general potential outcomes. Without travel to Germany, I’d expect to study at least 2 hours a week. An hour a week for conversation practice and another hour for input, be it series, books, etc.
Say that I plan to go to Germany, then 3 months of intensive study is the plan I have for myself. The word ‘intensive’ is relative in this case. I’ll likely only study an hour a day. You can figure that’s only going to add up to roughly 90 hours. I’ll reach for a C1 if the time is available but it’s likely to be impractical given my other priorities.
Articles on Learning German:
Portuguese – Maintain B2
My language learning goals for Portuguese in 2022 are not big. Early in 2021, after a little more than 2 year of near daily study, I very well might have been at a low C1. After studying Spanish for nearly 7 months, I’ve noticed that Spanish and Portuguese consume eachother to some extent. The more dominant language likes to interfere with the other when I’m trying to speak. For this reason, I think it’s going to be important to keep Portuguese present.
In terms of hourly goals, I’m not going to reach for something extraordinary. An hour a week, one hour every other week for conversation practice then an hour on each off week for input.
Articles on learning Portuguese:
Mandarin Chinese – Reach HSK 3/A2
Progress in my Mandarin was disappointing in 2021. The number of hours I put into it is about 110 based on my most conservative estimate. From early December of 2020 to early May of 2021, I studied roughly 30 minutes a day. I took a two-month break from early May 2021 to early July 2021. I picked it back up from there and took a few occasional week or so long pauses. That was about 5 months of studying roughly 15 minutes a day. Those two chunks of time are how I got to 110 hours. It’s likely more considering I took a few italki lessons in Mandarin, occasionally learned a thing or two on reddit, and my estimates for time spent studying are likely to be underestimated to a small degree.
I came a across a summary of a study on how long it takes to learn Mandarin some time ago on Reddit that puts someone with 140 study hours at a HSK1 level. HSK is a testing system for Mandarin proficiency evaluation. HSK2 is considered A1 by the reddit poster, who appears to be a member of a Mandarin language school. According to this, it would take another 140 hours to reach HSK2 or A1 then another 280 hours to reach HSK3 or A2. This means I’ll have to study 420 hours in 2022 to reach an HSK3 or A2 in Mandarin.
Reaching HSK3/A2 in Mandarin might be my most intimidating of my language learning goals in 2022. My progress in 2021 was ultimately the result of how much work I put into the language.
When I started studying Mandarin in December 2020, I was in it for the long-haul. I knew I wasn’t going to get a quick result. Nonetheless, I feel the need to approach Mandarin more seriously in 2022. Despite it being an intimidating goal, A2 really is only a couple of small steps towards conversational proficiency.
My approach to Mandarin will be slightly different next year. I’ll continue studying on LingQ, but I’ll put more emphasis on speaking. I plan on taking regular classes with a tutor to improve my communication in the language. My goal is to take 2 classes a month. This will also serve to increase my motivation.
I’m going to stick with studying LingQ 15 minutes a day. One area I’d really like to improve is listening. Mandarin podcasts are already something that I’ve dabbled in this year. They seem to be useful enough to make a part of my regular study habits. I also need a more deliberate vocabulary boost; therefore I’m going to give flashcards another shot. I’ve never been a huge fan of flashcards but using them to study Mandarin seems to be a somewhat common thread coming from the people that have learned the language.
The number of hours spent studying Mandarin next year is somewhat difficult to predict given all of the resources I just named off. Therefore, I’m going to say an hour a day with podcasts playing a fairly large role. This is going to put me short of the needed 420 hours at 365, but it’s in the ballpark. HSK3/A2 seems like an attainable goal from this perspective with a little extra effort.
Dutch – Reach B1
Dutch will be my newest of my language learning goals in 2022. My aspirations for the language aren’t huge. They can’t be given all of the languages I plan to dedicate time to. Based on the Foreign Language Institute’s (FLI) required study hours for B2, B1 is the goal I’m going to set for myself. According to FLI, I need to spend between 600 and 750 hours to learn a Category I language, which includes Dutch.
84% of Dutch and German vocabulary are said to be cognate. As a comparison, 89% of Spanish and Portuguese vocabulary are cognate. This made learning Spanish after Portuguese a much more seamless learning experience. I’m expecting German to have the same impact on Dutch. Let’s say then that it would take me 400 hours to reach a B2 in Dutch. That’s nearly an hour a day. I don’t think I’ll realistically achieve this given all of my time constraints, but somewhere in the ballpark of 250 hours or 45 minutes a day is more practical. I’ll likely start studying more as the year goes on as I begin speaking with Dutch speakers and enjoy Dutch content. To start, I’m going to study Dutch daily on LingQ for at least 15 minutes.
Scots – Study as Hobby
The amount of time I study Scots in 2021 may ultimately be very travel dependent as is the case with German. Scots doesn’t have a lot of great resources for study. Studying efficiently will be a problem in the long run, it’s also not the most practical language to learn in general. However, if a trip to Scotland becomes a part of my travel plans then Scots will become a priority.
Reaching a high proficiency in Scots would likely be quite easy if I were to find the right resources. Scots isn’t even considered to be a language different from English by some but rather a dialect. Therefore, a last-minute effort to learn it only even a month before might warrant some valuable results.
As a way to keep myself engaged in the language, I’m going to make a goal to spend an hour a month studying it in some way or another.
Articles on learning Scots:
Language Learning Goals: 2022 Study Hours Summary
Adding up all of my expected hours with the assumption that I won’t travel in 2022, it comes out to 146 hours per month for a month with 31 days. If you exclude Spanish, it’s only 53 hours. Since a lot of my Spanish practice will be engrained in my everyday life, this an important note to make. Only 50 or so hours each month will be more for deliberate study.
Last year I tried tracking my study hours in detail. I took notes on how many minutes I studied each time I sat down with a specific resource for each language. This felt excessive. It made language learning feel like a chore. My goal is to track hours but more vaguely this time around. I’ll likely set up an Excel spreadsheet that I can easily input minutes into directly.
New Year’s Resolutions are notorious for falling to the wayside. It’s definitely possible that I won’t stick to hours I’ve set for myself especially considering how many languages I’ve committed to. However, languages surely will continue to be a part of my life in 2022, whether or not I reach my goals is yet to be seen.