5 Things You Need To Quickly Improve Your English
Level: All levels Reading Time: 12 minutes Category: Study Tips
Do you want to improve your English? Are you frustrated with your slow progress? This is a common feeling for language learners.
We all want to improve faster and reach our goals as quickly as possible, but it is not easy to do this, right?
If you are learning English on your own, it can be very difficult to know if you are doing the right thing, using the best strategies and making the most of your study time.
That’s why I made this lesson. I want to share some tips with you that will put you on the right track and help you improve your English quickly!
You Need To Set Some Goals!
Everyone has different goals. Everyone has a different reason for wanting to learn English. For some people, it is to be able to watch Netflix without subtitles, for others they would like to travel overseas. Understanding what your goal is will help you actually achieve it!
You wouldn’t take a road trip without a map right? The same is true for your English learning journey! Think of your goals as a roadmap to English fluency. Understanding what your goal is will help you understand what steps you need to take to get there, right?
If you don’t have a goal, it is really hard to understand what you need to spend time studying.
Imagine if your goal is to travel overseas, you don’t want to waste your time studying business English idioms. You need to focus on things like travel phrases.
Each goal will need different steps to achieve. Knowing the goal will show you the steps you need to achieve and then you can focus yourself on those tasks. This means quicker improvement and less wasted effort.
Be Careful! Don’t set goals that are too optimistic. They will be too hard to achieve and you will get demotivated. “I want to learn 6000 words” is not a useful goal. Choose goals appropriate for your current level!
Setting goals is easy. There are 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Answer these questions…
- Why do you want to learn English?
- What will English allow you to do that you can’t do now?
- If you could speak English now, what would you do?
The answer to these questions will give you your main goal. This will help you with the next step…
Step 2: Break it down into steps…
Now you have your main goal, you need to turn it into something a bit more manageable.
Your main goal might be something like…
I want to make friends while I am studying overseas.
and that is a great goal to have, but what does that actually mean?
What you need to do now is think about what skills you need to be able to achieve that goal.
For example, to make friends, you are going to need to be able to do things like introduce yourself, talk about hobbies and interests and make and accept offers. These are some steps that we can actually plan for.
Next you need think about how to achieve each step. What do you need to learn to be able to introduce yourself in English? You will need to learn some introduction phrases and you will need to learn vocabulary related to your personal information. These are short term goals that are actually useful for our studies. We know what we need to do and why it is important for us.
Step 3: Write your goals down!
This step is really important. It is like a contract with yourself. Keeping your goals in your head is OK, but they are too easy to forget or ignore.
Having them written down on paper makes them feel more official!
Grab a pen and paper, or even better download the free cheat sheet for this lesson and write your goals down. You should write down your main goal, your steps and your short term goals for each step.
Don’t forget to set a timeframe or deadline for your short term goals to keep yourself on track! You should also try to use positive language when writing down your goals.
Be Careful! Don’t focus on the amount of time you will study or on the amount of words you will learn. Focus on the skill rather than the amount!
Step 4: Get to work and update your goals regularly!
Now that you have your goals written down, it’s time to start studying and moving towards your main goal!
Don’t forget to check back on your goals regularly and update them when things change.
It’s a good idea to put this paper somewhere you can see it when you are studying. Put it on the wall or tape it to your desk. Being able to see it when studying will help you stay focussed!
Are You Studying Everyday?
I know, I know… You’re busy… right? We all are. That doesn’t change the fact that if you want to learn a language, you need to do something every day that will make you better at using that language.
Which do you think is better? Studying for 30 minutes a day, or studying for 5 hours every Saturday. If you only look at the numbers, Saturday is the best, isn’t it? No, it is not.
More hours doesn’t mean more progress. Consistency means more progress.
Studying regularly for a short amount of time is so much better than one mega study session once a week.
If you study once a week, no matter how much you study, by the time you get to the next week, you will have forgotten so much of what you studied. However, by studying every day, you are keeping the language fresh in your mind. This makes it easier to remember for longer.
It also helps your motivation. If you constantly improve a little bit every day, your motivation will increase and you will want to keep improving. This means you will keep studying day after day and you will feel confident because you can feel the progress you are making.
The key here is to be reasonable. I am not suggesting that you study for hours and hours everyday.
We all have busy lives. This doesn’t mean that you cant study every day though. You just need to study smarter!
Why not just fit your studies around your schedule?
Try doing things like..
- Learning 5 new words while you eat your breakfast.
- Listen to a podcast while you are washing the dishes.
- Start a Twitter account and make one tweet in English every day.
- Try doing some English quizzes on Instagram.
- Read a book while you are in the bathroom.
- Watch a YouTube video in English on the way to work.
- Learn a new grammar point at lunch.
- Record a voice message to yourself using the recording app on your phone.
- Keep a video diary in English.
- Do some shadowing practice.
None of those things are hard to do. Any one of them can be done in 10 minutes or less. Do 3 of those things every day and you are going to see a lot of progress!
Be Careful! Don’t forget to mix it up a bit. Don’t just do the same things day in, day out because it will get really boring, really quickly. A bit of variety should keep it interesting!
Study Smarter, Not Harder!
No matter what English challenge is at hand, the Study Hacks Guide will help. I’ll give you strategies that will make studying less stressful and more exciting.
You Should Listen More!
When you learned your native language, you didn’t use any fancy apps or attend online classes, did you? You spent the first part of your life just listening and soaking all the language up like a sponge. Learning a second language is the same.
There are so many reasons, but they all lead to the same answer…
Listening to a lot of things in your target language is the best thing you can do to improve your skills.
This is because your brain will naturally absorb things if it is given the chance. Here are some of the benefits:
- Learn new words naturally and in context
- Be able to understand what native speakers are talking about.
- Naturally learn intonation and stress
- Be able to hear your own grammar mistakes
- Understand the correct pronunciation of words
- Learn slang, idioms and phrasal verbs
- Enjoy listening (it’s not studying if you enjoy it!)
Other than the simple answer of finding something and pressing play…
The best thing you can do is find a native speaker who is a YouTuber or a podcaster that makes content related to something you are interested in.
It doesn’t have to be related to learning English, it just has to be in English. Even better if it is designed for other native speakers. Here are some great British English podcasts:
34 best podcasts in 2021 – Radio Times [External website]
Now, just listen to their stuff… a lot. Don’t worry about understanding every single word, just listen. At first you probably wont understand much and that is OK. The more you do it, the more you will understand. Focus on what you do understand rather than what you don’t.
if you do this regularly, you will be surprised how much of a difference it makes to your overall language ability and that will mean you improve quicker and gain confidence.
Spend time building your vocabulary.
Words are important. They are probably the most important thing you can learn in a new language and they will also take the most of your time.
Words are like bricks. If you don’t have any bricks, you can’t build anything. If you don’t have any words you can use, you can’t say anything. This means that the more words you know, the more you can understand and use English.
This means that you should spend a lot of your time learning new words.
If you know the 3000 most common words in English, you can understand over 80% of what you hear and read.
That is pretty powerful. You should focus on reaching this amount of words as quickly as possible. It will make everything else in English easier for you.
Each person is different and different strategies work better depending on what kind of learner you are. Here are some common ways:
- Write down new words 100s of times.
- Relating pictures to new words.
- Using sticky notes to label things in your house.
- Finding word lists online.
- Using applications and websites.
There are many other ways, but these are the most common. For me, the best way is to use a flashcard app called ANKI. I think it is by far the best way to learn new words and I made a full lesson all about it which you can read here:
The Easiest Way To Learn Vocabulary
It doesn’t matter which strategy you decide to use, as long as you learn new words.
Practice SPeaking and Pronunciation.
So far, we have only talked about input, but what about output. Most people learn English because they want to actually speak it. This is not easy to do without practice.
If you want to play guitar, you have to spend a lot of time practicing guitar, right? You train your muscles to make the correct chord shapes and you get used to strumming the strings. Speaking English is kind of the same.
You need to train your muscles to make the correct shapes to make the sounds in English. This needs practice. You need confidence to try and piece together the things you have learned so far. This needs practice. You need to be able to speak in a way that other people can understand you. This needs practice.
You can’t learn to play guitar by reading about it. You can only do this by practicing it and speaking is the same. If you want to be able to speak, you need to practice.
There are lots of ways to practice, but the obvious one is…
The best speaking practice is to actually speak.
Here are some other things you can do to practice speaking.
- Improve your pronunciation with tongue twisters.
- Practice intonation and word stress with shadowing.
- Record yourself speaking on your phone.
- Join a speaking group in your area or online.
- Take an online conversation class.
STUDY SQUAD CHEAT SHEETS ARE HERE!
Wish you could study anytime, anywhere… Even if you don’t have internet access?
Do you forget the things you have learned in my lessons? Do you want to be able to remember the new words and phrases for longer?
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