Friday, 8 January 2016

What's your New Year's learning resolution?


Above: Margarita’s notebook, where she will record her progress on her New Year’s learning resolution

Happy New Year!

We’re glad to be back after the seasonal break and getting back into gear at NEC HQ. It’s a time for fresh starts, new ideas and sinking your teeth into your to-do list. Many of you may have already thought about the resolutions you want to make for the New Year, as we have been doing at the office. Perhaps you want to visit a place you’ve never been before, take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, get a new job, or simply indulge your curiosity and look up something you’ve been meaning to find out about?

Of course, our natural tendency is to lean towards something to do with education or learning in our own New Year’s resolutions. However, it’s fair to say the New Year is indeed an ideal time to get started if you want to fit more learning into your life. To help get you inspired, here are some ideas from members of the NEC team based at our offices in Cambridge:

Carly is even more driven to succeed with her learning this year, after having achieved a major goal in 2015. She says, “I feel really motivated to stick to my New Year’s learning resolution this year after finishing the Award in Education and Training last year. I'm going to get on with the CMI management course, which I have been putting off for some time now!”

Margarita, who originally hails from Germany (and whose notebook is pictured above), has already made a start on her New Year’s learning resolution, which came about quite spontaneously. “I received this notebook as a Christmas present and it occurred to me to use it to write down English words that are new to me, along with an explanation of their meaning in German. It will be really fun to see how many new words I have learned by next year!”

Stephanie is thinking about brushing up on her language skills too. “One of my new year's resolutions is to fill in the grammar gaps that have been created in my memory since studying languages seriously a few years ago,” she explains. “It's fun to be able to communicate, but I'm beginning to realise that I need a little more than bricks. Somehow I've got to get some mortar back in there. So it's back to the books for me, which I'm really looking forward to. So if any language students are moaning about grammar, I would say it's definitely worth learning it thoroughly the first time round, as the "mortar" will then take a lot longer to crumble away.”

Alison is our third NEC staff member who is also thinking about language-related learning goals, but the language she is interested in is sign language. “I'm thinking about learning British Sign Language, but haven't arranged anything yet,” she says. “I like the idea of learning a language and sign language has always fascinated me. I learnt to sign the alphabet when I was in my teens... I think I need to move on!”

As well as learning a language, Alison is also interested in finding out more about different periods of English history. “My area of ‘specialism’ is the Plantagenet period, especially the Wars of Roses time span,” she explains. “I feel I need to know more about the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans. Luckily, I have ten billion books in the spare room, gathered from various Oxfam and other second-hand book shops, that might help me learn. I just need to find the time to read them...”

Finding time to read is a problem Sophie shares with Alison. “I have a list of books about various topics that have caught my eye or been recommended by friends that I keep saying I’ll get around to reading. The new year would be a good excuse to finally get started.

“I also have a backlog of factual documentaries to catch up on,” she adds. “For instance, Sir David Attenborough has a new natural history programme out about the Great Barrier Reef, and I know it will be available on BBC iPlayer. I just need to get around to watching it. I don’t watch a lot of television any more, but the BBC has a way of making science and natural history programmes that keep you curious. I think that’s a good thing; it encourages people to stay curious and keep learning throughout life.”

What are your New Year’s learning resolutions? Let us know in the comments, or join the discussion on social media by tweeting at us or posting on our Facebook page. You might also find our previous blog about choosing a subject to study useful if you want to narrow down the focus of your learning resolution, and you can even download free course samples from our website as tasters!

Whatever your plans for 2016, we hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy learning something new this year. Let us know how you get on!

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