Goal Setting With Students


At the beginning of each semester, Foundations Year Program students at Sabanci University School of Languages have to attend a goal setting tutorial, which is among many other tutorials such as Learning Portfolio and writing. In this tutorial, as the name suggests, students are expected to come up with their goals and talk about them with their tutors.

I developed my own approach to goal setting in addition to the standard task sheet provided for the instructors. In a nutshell, I make a contract with my students. I give them a piece of paper and explain that I want them to write some sentences that start with “I will”. They need to know that the duration for fulfilling these goals. In my case, this is two months. I let them know that their statements can be considered as promises they make and that I would check in the middle and at the end of the allocated time period whether they keep their promises. To make it look serious I ask them to write their full name, date, and to sign the paper. We call it a “contract”.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Students need to know that they should only write attainable goals that they think they can manage, in other words, they should not promise anything they can’t keep.
  • Students need to be aware of the fact that their goals should be as realistic as possible.(For instance, one of my students today wanted to write that he would learn 200 words in one week. I told him that it makes 40 words a day. He agreed that it’s too much and accepted my suggestion to keep a vocabulary notebook instead.)
  • Students are not allowed to write sentences starting with “I will try…” as it doesn’t suggest a promise.
  • Students’ goals should be as specific as possible. Examples could be “I will watch 4-5 episodes of English series every week” or “I will read two intermediate level books in one month”.
  • Students are asked to take a photo of the “contract” (using their smart phones) so that they can keep their copy.

Here are a few examples from my “Route 2” students who are pre-intermediate level.