“I should study more.” “I need to improve my vocabulary.” I want to speak better.”
When I asked my students about what they wanted to achieve in 2017 these were some of the top responses. These goals are quite common when a new year begins, because it’s normal and natural for people to want to make self-improvements (especially related to language learning). Unfortunately it’s also quite common for people not to stick to their plans or not to reach these goals for a variety of reasons. I think one of the main reasons for this is not making goals a lifestyle, not making them a habit.
If you want to reach a goal, and you need to make a drastic change to accomplish it, it will be hard to achieve. So what can you do? You can make your goal a habit, make it a routine, and make it part of your everyday life. So in your first 5 Minute English lesson, we’re talking about English study habits, and ways to make English studying a habit.
English Study Habits
As I mentioned, consistency is key! You want to have consistent English in your life to use it successfully and to keep on learning. Think about it, if your studying is inconsistent, your English will be too!
What is consistency?
Being consistent is having something happen in the same way. Related to English, this means studying in the same way (the same amount per week). That way you can keep the momentum going, and not have a hard time getting back into the groove of studying.
- momentum: the force/drive that keeps something moving
- get back into the groove: to return to a state of doing something comfortably, doing something well, and at a desired pace
Basically you don’t want to allow yourself to get lazy with studying. Laziness will kill your skills!
So, beat this laziness with these 5 tips…
5 Tips to Make English Studying a Habit
1. Get an accountability partner
Don’t make studying a solo habit, and don’t always do it alone! Connect with someone learning English and help motivate each other!
Make a plan with someone (if you share the same goals), or make a plan to communicate your goal(s) with someone also studying English. Communicating your goals out loud will help make them a reality, and will give your partner a chance to check in on you (*to see how you are doing*). Check in on each other to make sure you are both sticking to plans and staying focused on your goals.
You will not want to continue giving excuses to this partner, you will not want to let them down, AND you definitely will not want them to think negatively of you. These 3 things are the motivation you need to study, and the motivation you need to make it a part of your everyday lifestyle.
2.Make realistic goals and studying schedules
Although it’s great to set very high goals and extensive study hours, if they are too high you will not be able to reach them. It’s much better to set smaller goals, and often be setting new (higher) ones as you reach them rather than 1 far away, unrealistic goal or plan.
The adjective ‘realistic’ is going to differ from person to person. So what is realistic for me, may not be realistic for you. So it’s important to evaluate your current level of English and your everyday life and current routine and find out what you want to achieve and where you really have time to study.
If you are an intermediate student, it may not be possible to watch an entire 3 hour movie in English without subtitles and understand everything. This goal may be unrealistic. Instead, you can set a goal to understand a 30 minute TV show. Again, your level and abilities will differ from someone else. Only you can determine what is realistic to accomplish.
At the same time, it’s unrealistic to say you’ll study 2 hours every day of the week if you have a family, a job, friends, and of course, your sanity, sleep, and health, to worry about. Things can get in the way of this intense schedule, so don’t set yourself up for failure in the beginning. Set yourself up for success and make a realistic schedule with goals you know you can achieve.
3. Find tasks and activities you enjoy doing
We are so lucky to live in an age where learning opportunities are endless (*there are a lot of opportunities*). Long gone are the days when you had to enroll in a school and learn from textbooks. Luckily you can learn English without stepping foot into a classroom! And, if you don’t enjoy textbooks or boring lessons, the great news is that you still have options to learn!
If you don’t enjoy reading a novel, then don’t put “reading a book” into your study plan. Instead try reading a blog about something that interests you. You can also go to a book store and pick up a magazine.
If you don’t like textbooks for learning grammar, what are your alternatives? Do you have any? YES! You can explore some 5 Minute English grammar videos, or the many (many) English blogs that write up interesting lessons.
It’s so important to avoid things you don’t like doing because again, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. It will be so much easier to find excuses to avoid studying (if you have boring tasks), because you won’t be excited to learn and excited to complete this task in your study plan.
Other recommendations to improve your English: Podcasts, like English Across the Pond, movies and TV shows (Netflix, Amazon Prime ), music, audio books (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks), English written blogs (about general topics), novels/books (Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial)
4. Include English in your current routines and habits
Think about the activities and tasks you are already doing every day, like brushing your teeth, showering, driving to work or commuting to school, having coffee at the breakfast table, etc.. How can you include English in these situations? If you figure this out, then you will automatically make English part of your routine, and it won’t be that challenging because the habit has already been established.
English listening practice is the easiest to put into your routine, because you can play music, podcasts, audio books, etc.. while brushing your teeth, showering, driving, cleaning, cooking, and so much more.
However, you can also read English news (on your kindle, or a book/magazine) with your coffee or breakfast. You can talk to yourself, and say the things you’re doing aloud as you’re getting ready for work or school. This activity will help you with speaking and vocabulary. Another way to get English into your routine is to print out blog articles or vocabulary words and attach them to your bathroom mirror. This can provide some reading material, new grammar concepts, or vocabulary to your routine!
I challenge you to find 1 article right here on English Outside the Box that you can print, and tape to your mirror now! There are plenty of lessons on idioms, phrasal verbs, grammar concepts and more. Use the search bar on the right-hand side of this screen to find one! Take a picture of the lesson on your mirror, and tag me on Instagram! 🙂
5. Make an investment into you and your English skills!
If you put some money into your goals, this money will be the motivation to learn and follow through with your plan. Although free studying is helpful, it’s easy to procrastinate your homework, and put off activities to later because there’s nothing making you want to do it now.
If you pay for an online class or course then you’ll stick to it because if you don’t show up to the class or complete the course, you lose the money. Nobody wants to lose money, so this is the perfect motivational tool to take your skills to the next level! Additionally, this investment will be with a professional. This English professional (teacher) will be another tool, another resource helping you reach success.
Recommended Resources for English Success:
Skype Lessons – you can learn with me online via Skype. Improve your conversational skills and so much more! Learn more and sign up for your trial today!
Really Learn English Books & Worksheets– Really Learn English has a great amount of resources (books, worksheets, tests, etc…) to help with various English areas. Visit their store and get something you love, Click here!
Grammarly– Grammarly is a tool that you install on your website to check your grammar and spelling. It’s better than a regular “word check” tool as it gives explanation of your mistakes as it corrects it! The great thing is, there is a free version, too! The upgraded version does have more benefits, so learn more and sign up here.
Lindsay Does Languages– Lindsay has created a few course options that can tremendously help your skills. You can improve your Phrasal verbs here with interesting stories, or learn how to be a successful self-studier here.
Pronunciation book– If can’t sign up with a tutor, here is my favorite book recommendation: American Accent Training with 5 Audio CDs
So how do you feel about your 2017 English journey? I hope you are able to start the year off strongly and are able to start utilizing these tips today!
Did you have any other tips that you want to add to this list? What tip do you have for making English studying a habit? Let me know in the comment section and until next time,