Note: This is a long, two part article. The first part is here. I’ll talk about my own thoughts regarding goal-setting and planning, but it is in large part related to my own personal goals. This is for two reasons: first, because I find that typing through this sort of thing helps me to think more clearly about it and calms my brain down a little; and second, because I feel like giving my ideas a little flesh will help to demonstrate them a little better. Obviously the details of my plans for the year won’t be relevant to anyone but me, but hopefully by demonstrating how I’m going about planning, it will help other people to be able to plan their year more efficiently and reach their goals with more certainty. I’m studying Chinese intensively in a program in Taiwan, with the aim of achieving professional-level competence in the language by the time I’m done here, but I think the principles I talk about here will be applicable to anyone’s goals.

So here’s what I’m doing, as far as my language studies. Like I’ve mentioned before on this blog, studying multiple books is essential if you want to progress at an optimal pace. Olle Linge wrote a great article on this, and I think you’ll recognize the source of some of my ideas there. Between now and the beginning of the Winter 2012 term, this is my plan for which textbooks to study in order to get me where I want to be.

Winter 2011 (now)

Class: PAVC III (almost finished)  PAVC IV (starting soon)
Self-study: Taiwan Today, Far East Everyday Chinese IIB (finish both)
文言文: An Introduction to Literary Chinese (finish Intermediate, start Advanced)

Spring 2012 (beginning March)

Class: PAVC IV (finish) and Far East III (first half)
Self-study: Talks on Chinese Culture (an ICLP text), Chinese with Newspaper I*
文言文: An Introduction to Literary Chinese (finish Advanced), Literary Chinese for Advanced Beginners (a text intended to take you from post-intro level to 古文觀止 level)

*I don’t expect Newspaper I to take the whole term, since I’m pretty much at that level already. If I’m able to finish it quickly, I want to study Far East III on my own in hopes of not having to take the second half of the book in the Summer.

Summer 2012 (beginning June)

Class: PAVC V (hoping not to have to take the last few chapters of Far East III)
Self-study: Chinese with Newspaper II and III
文言文: 四書, 古文觀止

Fall 2012 (beginning August)

Class: Level 6 class*
Self-study: The Independent Reader*, possibly China’s Peril and Promise
文言文: 四書, 古文觀止

*The most popular Level 6 class is Newspaper I, but since I will have already studied it I want to take a different class. It will depend on what’s offered. If I’m able to skip this level and go straight on to Thought and Society because of that, that would be ideal, but we’ll see. If I take Thought and Society, I will probably take The Independent Reader in the Winter instead of self-study now.

Winter 2012 (beginning December)

Class: Thought and Society (if I take this in the Fall, I’ll take The Independent Reader)
Self-study: Undecided so far, hopefully reading Chinese newspapers and history book
文言文: 古文觀止, maybe some Tang and Song poetry or something else too

Of course, I’m leaving some room for changing plans. I may have planned to do too much. I’m able to work on four books at a time right now (one for class, two on the side, and one for 文言文), but I may not be able to continue doing so once I’ve reached a higher level. It won’t be a huge deal if I need to extend my “deadline” into the Spring term of 2013, since I’ll still be here and taking classes, and the pickings are extremely slim indeed when you get above the classes I’ve mentioned here. I also would like to make some time to take a calligraphy class and a Taiwanese class while I’m here, and I’ve been encouraged by some professors back home to contact one of the professors here in Taipei about auditing a course, so I may find that I have too much on my plate.

I also (can we say over-achiever?) want to get back to studying French and German, since I’ll need to be able to read in those languages for my PhD program and I’d like to not have to worry about that while I’m taking grad school courses. Fortunately learning to read is easier than learning to converse, and that’s all I’ll need in those languages. So anyway, I may (and likely will) end up having to alter my plans as I go along. I may also find that some of these books overlap too much and are thus unnecessary. It’s hard to know that right now, but I’ll know by the time I get to that point.

I’ll be posting monthly goals in the Chinese-forums thread I mentioned before, and maybe I’ll be talking about that here, too. For now, my goals for January are:

Taiwan Today: finish Chapter 9 (1.5 chapters per week, since it’s fairly easy going)
Far East III: Finish Chapter 22 (1 chapter per week)
Fuller: Finish Chapter 20 (2 chapters per week)

I have no control over how fast my class goes, but I think we should be able to finish PAVC III this month, or come within a few days of finishing at least.

So there it is. I know this is a long article (or long-winded, if you prefer), but hopefully it will help someone out there. Big, far off goals are useless, and without good planning they’re bound to fail. Breaking the year down into chunks (terms at school for me), and breaking those chunks down into smaller chunks (months) will make it much easier to get there, and make the goal seem less overwhelming. As they say (my teachers here in Taiwan would kill me for this), 好好學習,天天向上.