Metacognition is very important in the world of education. Simply put, metacognition is “thinking about your own thinking”, but more specifically, it refers to the ability to plan, monitor, and evaluate your performance in a certain area.
I try to apply this concept to my language learning as often as possible. I plan a schedule for studying and set personal goals, and then on a regular basis I evaluate how well I’m achieving my goals and/or how much progress I’ve made. When I’m failing to achieve my goals, or when I’m not making as much progress as I’d like, I take a step back and try to figure out what I’m doing wrong.
In the past few weeks, I’ve consistently had the problem of not meeting my daily studying goals. My daily goals aren’t unreasonable, and I have plenty of free time during the day, so it’s not the plan that’s the problem.
My issue lies in the execution. Somehow, I always end up putting off my Korean studying over and over again, until suddenly it’s past 9 p.m. and I haven’t accomplished anything yet. What typically happens is that I then scramble to accomplish everything at the last minute, and then my motivation dies and I don’t end up achieving everything I wanted.
To combat this problem, I’ve come up with a system that eliminates my ability to procrastinate. I take out a sheet of paper and plan out my entire day, or at least a large chunk of my day. I then break up my free time into 30 minute chunks and write down exactly what I would like to do during those chunks. Chunks may include doing housework, studying Korean, and other obligations. By doing that, I can ensure that I make time to achieve all of my goals for that day. Of course, I plan in some down time as well, where I have the freedom to surf the internet and watch tennis. Otherwise I would burn out very quickly.
Now, I know that this is extremely type-A, but in the past few days that I’ve tried it, it’s worked well for me. I’ve found that doing things in 30 minute chunks is really self-motivating — I push myself to see how much I can get done in those short pockets of time. And no more late-night scrambling!
Since I’m down to less than three weeks until I leave for Korea, this system will hopefully keep me studying hard until then. Three little weeks! I can hardly believe it.