Short dialogs featuring everyday language has long been a mainstay of language-learning practice.

We offer a slight twist in our newly redesigned dialog activity by making it goal-driven and allowing your to track your progress toward meeting each goal as you work through each dialog.

The value of a goal

Olle has written extensively about the value of setting goals over at Hacking Chinese (e.g., Introduction, long-term, short-term, and micro goals) so I'll only briefly summarize.

Setting goals is a great thing to do, and is effective tool for advancing your language ability. This is largely a result of the powerful effects goals can have on:

  • Your intrinsic motivation
  • What you do and how you approach a task
  • How focused you are at a task
  • How much time you're able to spend at something
  • How you perceive your progress and accomplishments
  • Your resilience in the face of obstacles
  • ... And much more

In order to help you capture some of these benefits, we've rebuilt our dialog activity so that it involves an explicit goal-setting step, and provides some tooling to help you track and evaluate your achievements.

Setting a goal

Before beginning a dialog, you're asked to think of a goal for how you want to study the dialog. A study goal for one dialog probably qualifies as what Olle describes as a micro goal. Maybe your goal is simply to read through the whole dialog. Or maybe it's to find new words and make a word list.

We make the process of choosing a goal explicit. You can select one of several goal suggestions or create your own goal.

Your goal will be displayed along the way while you study the dialog so that you can remember what you want to focus on.

Once you're done reading a line, you can tick off ways in which you studied that line of the dialog.

These markings are a reminder of ways you can focus on the material. You can mark as many or as few as you want.

At any point you can review how you've studied:

Maybe you want to make one pass just listening. Then go through a second time and study each line carefully. Or maybe you want to first skip the hardest lines, and come back later and study those. By marking how you study you'll be able to return later and study more or using a different approach.

At the end of the dialog, you can rate how you fared. Did you meet your goal with flying colors? Or did you skimp and want to remind yourself to return later and work more on this dialog?

These ratings can mean whatever you want them to mean. They are for your own reference to help you monitor your practice.

The goals you've created will be shown below each dialog in the Dialog Index.

At present, we have 12 dialogs. In the coming weeks and months, we'll aim to release one dialog per week as we try and keep up with your voracious language-learning appetite.

We hope that by encouraging you to think about your micro study goals, and helping you remember them along the way, you'll get more out of your language practice and be more likely to reach your long-term study goals.

Go try the new Dialogs activity