PME 800-003 Self-Regulated Learning and Inquiry

My Inquiry Project

Distal Goal: To Be able to read and order from a Ukrainian Restaurant in Ukrainian by March 4th

Our “Great Grandmother” who sits outside O’Pana’s Ukrainian Restaurant

Here is a link to the O’Pana’s extensive menu. You can View it in both Ukrainian and English

Why did I choose my distal goal?

I chose this goal because I am currently living in Ukraine and I have not achieved the level of language proficiency I would like. Although Russian and Ukrainian are the main languages spoken in Ukraine, I seem to be able to get by using English, hand gestures and the limited amount of Ukrainian I currently know. As I know from my readings, I am learning adverse, and I feel like I know enough to get by.

“While life may be filled with opportunities for learning and people certainly have the lifelong potential for learning, research finds that most people are more likely to be ‘‘lifelong avoiders of learning’’ than ‘‘lifelong realizers of learning’’ (Katz & Dack, 2013). 

Most people I know would not blame me for giving up. Ukrainian is a difficult language. According to the Foreign Service Institute, Ukrainian is ranked as a Category 4, out of 5 categories, Language, with “Significant linguistic and or cultural differences from English.”

It is starting to dawn on me that I am half way through a three year posting and If I don’t focus on learning Ukrainian now, I will miss this opportunity to use the language and practice with locals on a daily basis.

Is my distal goal achievable in the time frame of this course?

Yes, my distal goal is achievable. I did choose a very dense menu, but I chose the restaurant because it was the first taste of Ukrainian food I had in Kyiv, the restaurant is charming, and it is very close to my house. I probably should have compared the size of the menu to other comparable restaurants in the city, but since I was breaking my goal down into smaller proximal goals, I did not realize just how large the menu was went I started. My distal goal is also achievable since I although I am learning the entire menu, I will only have to order the food and drink for me and my family. The pressure is still on, however, since my son and Ukrainian teacher will be critiquing my performance on all of the way. I take a Ukrainian lessons once a week so I will be able to practice each section with my teacher, as well as review the other sections I have learned.

Are my proximal goals reasonable divisions in the inquiry process?

Yes, my proximal goals are reasonable divisions in the inquiry process. I listened to Locke and Latham, and decided work on the hardest section of the menu first. According to Locke and Latham: Studies showed that specific, high (hard) goals lead to a higher level of task performance than do easy goals or vague, abstract goals such as the exhortation to “do one’s best.” The hardest section of the menu for me were the appetizers. There were a lot of appetizers to learn, and I hadn’t been studying Ukrainian much at this time so I was a little rusty.

Will the achievement of your proximal goal motivate you?

My goals are divided up neatly into the sections of the menu. Due to the time of the course, I will have to learn more than one section of the menu at a time. I strategically divided the menu into sections that would be manageable. Like I mentioned I focused on the hardest section first and then chose one difficult section and paired it with an easier one. I love soup and I am familiar with words relating to soup, so I paired that up with Vareneky and salads. Vareneky is also quite easy since all the dishes start with the word “vareneky,” and I only need to learn the fillings. Once I started working on my goal it became very important to me. Once I realized that it was possible to achieve and I received positive feedback from my teacher and my son, I felt like I wanted to keep going. I gave up on other pleasurable activities in order to give enough to this goal, since language learning cannot be rushed.

What issues/challenges/problems do you anticipate going into this inquiry project ?

I am a very busy person! I have a son, I have a job, I am taking two courses, I am studying Ukrainian, and we have official functions due to my husband’s role in the diplomatic community. I was unsure how I would find time to add my goal to my already packed schedule. I soon realized that adding was not an option, but rather replacing an activity in order to achieve my goal. Another potential issue came up when my Ukrainian teacher informed me she would be traveling to Belgium for a week. I was worried, as I had proximal goals to meet, and without her, I had to work that much harder on my own. I did end up taping her reading a section of the menu, so I could feel confident in my pronunciation.

How might you deal with those issues/challenges/problems? What strengths do you have that might help you meet these challenges?

As I mentioned I taped my Ukrainian teacher reading the menu so I had someone to emulate when working on my goals. Another strength I have is a good memory. I can remember the announcement in the Prague Metro letting people know that the doors would be closing, and that was 20 years ago! Obviously this had something to do with repetition, but I was in Germany recently, and was surprised at how much I understood, even though I haven’t studied any German since high school. Languages are amazing, since they stay in your brain somewhere, and when you least expect it, a word you did not remember knowing pops out. Another strength I have, which I did not realize was going to be so useful was my support system and most prominently my son. He is studying Ukrainian at school and he is very exacting on his pronunciation. I was impressed at his ability to read the menu items and correct me when necessary. I don’t think I would have put as much effort into this goal if not for my son actively wanting to help me.


I had originally wanted to do a practice run and go to O’Panna’s, and see if I could make myself understood. Every time I thought about going, I was worried that I was not ready yet and may the visit may have a detrimental effect on me moving forward with the goal. I walked by the restaurant many times over this last month and was tempted to go in and make a reservation. If I made the reservation, I would be more likely to follow through, because I would then have to go back to cancel the reservation. I learned some tips and tricks to goal setting while researching articles to share with the group. I like and have been using the opt out method to make goal-attainment easier. “Opt-Out vs. Opt-In. There is a famous organ donation study that revealed how multiple European countries skyrocketed their organ donation rates: they required citizens to opt-out of donating rather than opt-in to donating. You can do something similar in your life by opting your future self into better habits ahead of time. For example, you could schedule your yoga session for next week while you are feeling motivated today. When your workout rolls around, you have to justify opting-out rather than motivating yourself to opt-in.” (James Clear)

This is so true! I feel like I have grown as a person by focusing on a goal and not giving myself a chance to fail
By making my goal so specific, measurable and time bound, I was locked into achieving my goal. I made it relevant to my personal experience and therefore, it was attainable.

Here is my monitoring document: including my proximal goals:

Week 1 Reflections-When I listened back to myself reading the menu, I was slow, not very confident and most words sound like questions, rather than statements. I seem to be questioning every word I am saying. I felt successful at the time, but when I reflect on the difference between week one and week 1 and weeks 4 and 5, I realize how far I have come.

Here is a picture of me enjoying my cabbage rolls and beer. So good! ДАНОЮ

Week 2 Reflections: To motivate me while working on my goal, I again watched the video by Eduardo Briceno in order to inspire me. I also looked for resources to help me have a positive self-talk mind set. I found this great resource which helped me a lot on my journey. I also reached out to the people in my class and they encouraged me with their positive energy and encouragement. I hear my self relaxing with the new menu section, as my Ukrainian teacher told me she could understand every word I said on the first and second week recordings.

The Mehrit Centre

Week 3 Reflections: This week I sought out new resources to help me with my goal and to add to the class data base of resources. I stumbled across James Clear who is an author and entrepreneur. I learned a lot through his practical, simple advice. Week three was a real turning point for me. I learned I had to change my environment and I had to give up some pleasurable activities in order to attain my goal. A simple tip James Clear offered is:

Many of the decisions we make in our professional and personal lives are shaped by the options that surround us.

  • If you sleep with your phone next to your bed, then checking social media and email as soon as you wake up is likely to be the default decision.
  • If you walk into your living room and your couches and chairs all face the television, then watching television is likely to be the default decision.
  • If you keep alcohol in your kitchen, then drinking consistently is more likely to be the default decision.

I decided during week 3 to switch my practice to the dining room table. I usually find myself sitting on my couch to work on my assignments. Like James Clear points out, if you sit on the couch facing the television, you may default to turning on the TV, since that is what that area is designed for. I found sitting at the dinning room table made me more purposeful and mindful. When sitting on the couch, I often allowed myself to take breaks and watch a video clip or a music video as a reward. While rewards are positive and can be motivating, I found that one clip or video can lead to another and I had to alter my environment to set boundaries between work time and leisure time.

The beautiful ceiling of O’Pana’s Restaurant

Week 4 Reflections: During Week 4, I decided to kick it up a notch. Instead of waiting for my Ukrainian teacher to review the new menu items with me, I started on my own and was prepared when she arrived. She was impressed! We had time to review the new section of the menu, review the previous sections of the menu and work on some new verbs unrelated to my specific goal. I asked for feedback from my group, and I was encouraged to take a risk and possibly make a mistake, rather than to wait for Natalya to model the menu for me. My risk paid off in terms of confidence building, goal attainment and freeing up time to learn new verbs.

Natalya, my Ukrainian teacher at O’Pana’s Restaurant

Week 5: Reflections: This week was exciting because I knew I would achieve my goal. Natalya made a reservation on the date as promised, March 4th. Unfortunately my husband was in Canada and did not get to celebrate with us, but I had two very supportive people join me to celebrate. This week I wasn’t so confident on the Grill Menu for Meat. I was hesitant. I wonder if I could have reviewed more this week. Did my goal seem so close that I was getting ahead of myself? Was I not putting in the work as I had in previous weeks? I was confident on the side dishes and the pancakes, but they were relatively easy compared to the meat menu. Listening back to myself, I could have been less hesitant and was not as pleased with my effort as in previous weeks.

While this saying may seem obvious, I had a real light bulb moment while participating in this project. I realized that I like to set goals, state them out loud and then expect that if I want something badly enough it will happen. I have not been strategic in my goal setting. I have not set SMART goals in the past. I will no longer wish for goal attainment, but plan, achieve and reflect on my achievements.

On our way into the restaurant with my son to complete my goal.
I was so nervous!

Here is a transcript of what I ordered at O’Pana’s. Note: not all words can be translated exactly.

I said: “Good evening. I would like some borsht and two potions of homemade cabbage rolls with sour cream. I would also like a small Lvivsky Beer.” I then ordered for Natalya, my Ukrainian teacher: “She will have the Kyiv Cutlet and a Uzvar, but not cold, please.” (Uzvar is a traditional Ukrainian drink. I think it tastes like a sauna smells, if you can imagine that). I then ordered for my son: “He would like to have a salmon steak with rice and a Fanta with ice, please.” I ordered an appetizer for the group: “We would like to start with the cold vegetables plate, Please.” She asked me if we wanted bread for the table and I replied, “Yes.”