This is a tricky question. It’s one that most don’t even consider. I wish to learn Italian. That seems a bit vague. To what degree do you want to know this language? Common conversation? Publishing a book in the new language? Studying the literature of the country? Understanding what the waiter is saying under his breath?
The best way to set a goal is to set a success milestone. “I will be successful when…” statements give you the parameters. “I will be successful with my violin lessons when I pass the audition to the local orchestra.” “I will be successful giving a speech when I can give the toast at my best friend’s wedding without fainting and sounding like a goof.” “I will be successful in this math class when I get a B on the final test in Differential Equations.”
Some of these success statements come with a timeline–the professor isn’t going to reschedule the final test around your readiness. The orchestra auditions are time-bound as well. The wedding date is set. I will be successful at learning Italian when I can speak, hear and read the language on our visit. Well, it’s COVID. Nobody knows when you’re going to go back to Italy. You will need to set a time limit if there isn’t one intrinsically specified in your success statement. You cannot set a time limit based on the performance of other people. Statements like these are assigning a goal and a time line for you:
- You should finish the test in four hours.
- You should drop 2 pounds per week.
- You should be able to finish a chapter every 2-3 days.
Your progress is your own and it depends on how you learn. Visual learners have problems learning by auditory means. Kinesthetic learners are challenged by desks. Auditory learners should never put together toys for Christmas. So How you learn, how consistent you are in the process, how much time you commit, your distractions, your availability of resources, your familiarity with the jargon and abbreviations…all those things affect your timeline. Take a look at your project, choose a success parameter, then make a tentative guess at the time line you wish to pursue. If it doesn’t fit your circumstances, make adjustments.
I will help you figure out your success parameter, and help you develop your timeline.