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This has mainly to do with the technology side of thinking. These days there are so many different kinds of technology in business and not every piece of tech is right for a business, so a business owner needs to understand where they want their future to be and then ‘back-cast’ so as to make it happen. This is the same in English learning.
We all know what ‘forecasting’ is – projecting into the future, so ‘back-casting’ is actually the opposite – seeing into the future, setting a clear goal in mind, then stepping back step by step to understand the steps on how you can get there.
Let’s try that in English learning:
Firstly, you need to understand the different ESL futures there are. We do this by asking ourself quite honestly who we want to be:
- Someone who is a fluent native English speaker and writer
- Someone who is a proficient professional ESL speaker and writer
- Someone who can talk their way through a conversation
- Someone who can understand English but has only a simple communication level
- Someone who can ‘get by’ if necessary
- Someone who doesn’t speak or understand English
All these are very realistic futures for ESL learners. The difference is that you the student makes the decision on which future you want. When you have made that decision you need to put together the steps back to where you are today.
Let’s take No. 1: Someone who is a fluent native English speaker and writer
STEP 7: Fluent native English speaker and writer
STEP 6: Raised own children as native speakers
STEP 5: Mixed only with local people and even married a local person
STEP 4: Moved to a country where English was the first language
STEP 3: Completed a university degree in English
STEP 2: Completed a language course after leaving school
STEP 1: Non English speaker but learned some English at high school
Step 1 is where you are today, and this gives you a clear direction and process. It also helps you to understand different benchmarks along the way so you can tick them off once you have got there.
For many people, becoming a native English speaker is a tall order, but it is possible and as you can see why the back-casting, does involve quite a commitment, but it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it.
So take a moment now and decide what your different English futures are. Once you decide on one realistic one for you, try this back-casting exercise to see how you could get there.