How to Set SMART Goals for English Success

Would you go on a trip without knowing your destination?

For most people, a trip like that would be quite stressful. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived? 

Try thinking of your English journey in the same way: If you don’t have goals, how will you know when you’ve reached them?

In the article 7 Essential Habits to Help You Master a New Language, we talked about the importance of setting language goals. Now, let’s look at goal-setting in a little more detail!

Set SMART Goals

When you’re setting your English-learning goals, it’s important to have a plan. One way to organize yourself is to create SMART goals.

A SMART goal is a type of goal that helps you plan exactly what you want to achieve. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Whenever you set an English goal, you should make it SMART. Read on to learn more!

Parts of a SMART Goal


If you read last week’s article, you know that setting a goal that’s too general isn’t useful. It’s difficult to achieve a general goal because you haven’t really thought about what you want to achieve. Effective goals should be clear and specific

❌ Learn English

✔️ Communicate with native English speakers at a party

✔️ Write an English email to my business partners


A useful goal is a measurable one. Measuring your progress will help you stay motivated because you’re able to see how much you’ve achieved, or how much work you still need to do. Try adding a number to your goal to make it easier to measure.

❌ Learn English grammar

✔️ Study English grammar for 30 minutes every day

✔️ Learn one English grammar point each week


If your goal is too difficult or if you don’t have enough time to complete it, you’ll probably fail and get discouraged. It’s much smarter to make smaller, more attainable goals (things you can actually achieve) and complete them one by one.

❌ Become fluent in English in one month

✔️ Learn the 50 most common English verbs in one month

✔️ Be able to have a two-minute conversation in my English class


Your English goals will be easier to achieve if they’re relevant—they should be connected to your situation. Imagine that you’re going to take a trip to an English-speaking country. In that case, you should focus on communicating in that country. Making a goal to write a perfect essay isn’t relevant; it won’t help you prepare for your vacation! 

❌ Learn to write an English essay

✔️ Learn phrases to ask for transportation help while I’m in Canada

✔️ Learn to order food at a Canadian restaurant


A time-bound goal is one that has a time limit. When you set a reasonable time limit for your goals, you’ll be more motivated to keep working on them. On the other hand, if you feel that you have unlimited time, you might not work as hard or be as focused.

❌ Learn 200 English vocabulary words

✔️ Learn 200 English vocabulary words in two months

✔️ Learn three vocabulary words every day from February to April


You might think it’s simple to set goals, but if you do so incorrectly they’ll be hard to achieve. By making sure all your goals are SMART, you’ll increase your chances of having English success!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.