5 Simple Study Tips For English Learners
Updated: Feb 1
So you’ve been feeling stuck lately. You watch English TV and listen to English music, but your vocabulary isn’t getting bigger and your grammar isn’t getting better. Don’t give up! Start building better study habits with these time-proven tips.
Watching movies or shows in English can be great, but it doesn’t do nearly as much good as picking up a book will for your language skills. For years studies have shown that reading is the number one way to improve your vocabulary and grammar. Why? Because you’re taking your time. When we read, we slow down, make a cup of tea, and get our ourselves in a quiet place free of distractions. This allows us to focus and really take our time with the words, even looking them up when we need to. Dialogue on television, on the other hand, moves too quickly, and while we may understand the context of what’s happening, we’re not building our vocabulary, we’re being entertained.
If reading is breathing in, writing is breathing out, and we need both to stay alive—and to master a language. When you learn a new word, write it down. Write, don’t type. Studies also show a much greater connection between our memory and physically writing things down with a pencil versus typing on our phones. Keep a journal of new words and phrases you like, and even if you never open it to review (which of course you should), the simple act of writing it down increases your ability to remember it.
3. Talk to yourself
Not everyone has access to an English language conversation partner, and lessons can be expensive. So, you’re the next best thing! Force yourself to think in English. Even if you don’t open your mouth, your brain is still doing the work of constructing sentences, and this type of practice is far better than nothing.
4. Build a habit
You wouldn’t expect to become an Olympic athlete by training for two hours per week, or to learn how to play an instrument by practicing only on Thursdays, would you? Of course not. Habit is the foundation of skill building, no matter what discipline. You don’t have to study for hours a day either (although that would be wonderful!). Start slow with ten minutes per day and watch yourself slowly transform. Studies show that as the habit gets stronger, so will your desire to improve.
5. Manage expectations
How long did it take you to speak your native language as well as you do now? Your whole life. Don’t expect to become an expert overnight. Learning a language takes dedication, practice, and much more time than you think. Don’t focus on the end goal of fluency (which may not be your goal anyway, and that’s great too!), focus on enjoying the process of unveiling a whole new world of words and expressions. If you’re having fun, building a habit, and using proper methods, the improvement will happen naturally!
Some people can achieve their language goals by themselves, but many people benefit greatly from a mentor, teacher, or just a conversation partner. If you have any questions about your own language journey, or want someone to chat with, contact me now to set up an appointment to make a learning plan. :)