Learning Outcomes

A Learner Plan (LP) can be a very useful tool to help you actively participate in the process of language learning, figure out what works for you, and have a long-term commitment to language learning. In short it is a strategy you can adopt to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your language learning.

By the end of this package, you will learn

What is a Learner Plan?

A Learner Plan (LP) is a tool for you to:

  1. set individual learning targets
  2. keep a record of your language learning progress and achievements

It is very useful in helping you to manage and monitor your own language learning and helpful in learning independently.

Activity 1


All of them are relevant.

A good learner plan can help you to:

  • identify achievable targets for language learning
  • keep track of what you have learned and enjoyed
  • take more control of your own learning
  • develop your confidence in your ability to tackle problems in language learning and make progress


What is an effective Learner Plan?

Activity 2

Here are the key elements of an effective Learner Plan. Unfortunately some of the words are missing.


  1. Practical: Set yourself realistic learning goals that you can achieve. For example, it might not be practical to achieve IELTS 8.0 within a semester if your current IELTS level is 5.5. So set yourself achievable targets.

  2. Specific: Your learning goals should be focused. For example, the learning goal ‘do more grammar exercises’ is too general. However if you focus your attention on ‘prepositions of time’, the target is easier to identify and therefore more attainable.

  3. Manageable: You should schedule time for the planned learning activities. For example, if you put ‘listen to the news in English every day’, you must make sure that you have the time to do so. Look at your timetable to identify which days are the best to practise your listening skills. If your schedule is too tight, you could end up putting unnecessary pressure on yourself which will affect the effectiveness of the activity and your enjoyment of it.


Activity 3

Writing an Effective Learner Plan


  1. Practical and specific, but not manageable. The activity of reading the newspaper article is achievable and specific but it might not be manageable to record 20 words and write 20 practice sentences every day.

  2. Practical, specific and manageable. The learning goal is very clear and specific. The activity is achievable and the time arrangement is reasonable with some flexibility.

  3. It might be practical but certainly is not specific. Whilst there may be something to be gained by simply talking to tutors, there is no focus here on what the learner wants to improve. The manageability of the task depends on how busy your independent learning centre is.


How do you create a Learner Plan?

To get started with the learner plan, think about some of the things that you have already learned and enjoyed. Write those experiences down and remind yourself why they were important and how they helped you.

It can be very challenging to create a learner plan. Sometimes, your plan might be too ambitious or alternatively too vague that it will be difficult to implement. Sometimes you might include too many tasks to manage. The planning alone is actually an important skill that you need to acquire and it is a process of learning in itself.

1. Steps of Creating a Learner Plan

Activity 4


Step Action
Step 1
Identify Learning Goals
1. Make a list of goals that you want to target.
2. Work on one or two goals that are practical, specific and manageable.
Step 2
Identify Learning Activities
1. Find learning activities to achieve your learning goals.
2. Look for resources for you to complete those activities.
Step 3
Identify Time
1. Plan a schedule for your learning activities.
2. Allow time to check and reflect on your progress.
Step 4
Plan & Practice
1. Draft your learner plan.
2. Practice it to see if it works for you.
Step 5
Reflection & Revision
1. Reflect on what you have done, how well you have done it and what you should do next.
2. Keep a record of what you have learned and achieved.
3. Revise your plan based on your reflection or make a new one.


2. Creating a Learner Plan: A Case of Lily

Lily was a first-year student at a university in Hong Kong. She was very excited about her university life, but she was very worried about her English. Since had she graduated from a CMI school, she was not very confident in English particularly in speaking and writing.

When the semester started, she found that half of her courses were taught in English and she had a few English term papers to complete by the end of the semester. She was glad that she could take a language enhancement course on academic writing, in which she was taught about academic writing. She then decided to do some extra work to improve her academic writing skills.
[Note: Lily identified an area to improve.]

What should she do to improve her academic writing skills? Where could she start? Did she have the time needed for her planned activities? What kinds of resources were available to her in the university?

Lily carefully read the requirements of the term papers and reviewed the handouts and notes she had taken in the academic writing course. She then decided that she would work on two areas to improve her academic writing.

Table 1 Target areas

No. Target areas When to Achieve
1 Learn more academic words from the Academic Work List (AWL) – target 15 words a month On-going 2013 - 2014
2 Learn to use the APA method of in-text and end of text referencing November 2013

She then decided to start with the first learning goal.
[Note: Lily identified specific learning goals. She finished the first step.]

Activity 5 Identifying Learning Activities

Next, Lily tried to find out what activities could be useful for her to achieve the learning goal. Here is Lily’s list of learning activities. [Note: Lily brainstormed the ideas first by making a list. She intended to identify specific learning activities to achieve her learning goal.] Can you help her to decide which activities are relevant please?


The selection of activities depends on learning habits and learning styles. Most of the above activities are relevant, but might vary in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Another concern is time. Some activities might be useful, but very time-consuming, e.g. “b” and “f”. Some might help but you may not see the outcomes immediately e.g. “g”. Others might have short-term outcomes, e.g. “c” and “d”. Task “e” is more concerned with the usage of academic words, while “i” adopts a social learning strategy.

Lily decided to try “a, b, d, e, and f” first for the first month. After selecting the learning activities, Lily had to consider if she had time. She looked at the timetable and tried to find some quality time of 15 minutes or half an hour so that she could focus on her chosen language activities. She identified three timeslots in a normal week:

  • 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon
  • 60 minutes on Wednesday evening
  • 30 minutes on Friday morning

She decided to leave out “f”, which she could do it later as a consolidation activity. [Note: Lily identified specific time for her learning activities.]


Table 2: An Action Plan

Now Lily could make a learner plan and practice but first she would need to create an ACTION PLAN.


An action plan can be short-term or medium-term depending on the nature of the learning task. Action plans are usually task-based. For example, you can make an action plan for a term paper, or developing listening skills.

Activity 6 Making an Action Plan


Table 2 An Action Plan (Sep.- Oct. 2013) for Learning Academic Words
No. Tasks to do When to do Where are the resources How long (hours) When to finish Done?
1 Print the academic word list. Highlight the first 20 words that I am not familiar with. Wednesday Website suggested by teacher 1 Sep. 18
2 Check the dictionary to find out the meaning, part of speech, and sample sentences of those unfamiliar words. Wednesday Library, Internet 5 Oct. 25th
3 Do the online AWL exercises suggested by the teacher. Tuesday Website suggested by teacher 0.5 hour Oct. 31st
4 Read some published journal articles and identify how academic words have been used in the articles. Friday Library, Google Scholar, EAP Foundation 2.5 hours Oct. 31st


Table 3: Online AWL Exercises

In addition, Lily made a record of her online AWL exercise progress.

Table 3 Online AWL Exercises

Dates Tasks Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
Sep. 23-Oct. 30 Online AWL Exercises AWL 1 AWL 2 AWL 3 AWL 4 AWL 5 AWL 6

[Note: Lily made her plans and was ready to practice.]

Overall, we can see that Lily has developed an effective Learner Plan and if she sticks to it, she should make significant progress.

Issues of Implementing the Learner Plan

No matter what type of learner plan you create and implement, you might encounter some problems. Here are some are some of the:

  • Timing – make sure that you include your Learner Plan on your regular work or study timetable. By doing this, you will incorporate it as part of your daily or weekly routine.

  • Repeating - just as you might sit down for 15 to 30 minutes every day to practice playing the piano, you might practice similar things for language learning day after day, week after week. So do not be afraid of re-learning something. Language units do not exist in isolation so be aware of the importance of returning, reviewing and re-practising.

  • Completing - do not be surprised if your Lerner Plan is not complete. As you gain more experience in using the Learner Plan, you will become more skilled at setting practical, specific and manageable goals as well as in achieving them.

  • Reviewing – update your plans. You might add or omit things if don’t work for you or you decide to re-assess your targets.

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