As a teacher, I have seen many students over the years. I have seen students achieve their goals and I have seen them quit. I also came to see that there was an important difference in each group of students, that small something that made some of them succeed, and this is the habits they applied to their lives.
As I always say on the blog, the only way to improve is to practice. There is no magic pill that can certainly make you learn a language (not yet at least, although they are working on it), and even if we have it, there’s no better feeling than seeing your language abilities grow from the effort you put into it.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you practice once a week. The thing that will cause a significant and steady improvement is consistent practice, and this can only be done through habits. Without them, you are wasting your time at the institute (if you finish it, of course).
In this post, I want to talk to you about 8 habits you need to implement in your life in order to master English. Apply them, and you WILL achieve your goals.
The 10 Habits of a Good English Student
Plan your learning
This is the core of the whole learning process. The whole idea of habits is to fit English into your daily life. For this to happen, you need to make time for it and plan how will you carry this through. Small regular chunks of study tend to work better than less frequent ling chinks, so it’s not necessary to have a lot of time.
Try to spend five to ten minutes each day to review your vocabulary or do an exercise. If you combine this with regular lessons with a teacher will soon make you improve your level
Study with a purpose
I am a big believer in studying with a bigger purpose than learning English. Let me explain myself with a testimonial of a friend of mine. He is a Spanish teacher and a musician. At a point of his life, he decided he wanted to learn about Sound Engineering.
Now, most sound engineering resources are in English. My friend’s English was ok at the time, but because he had to immerse himself in this books to learn, his English improved massively as well.
This is what I mean about purpose. English is an indispensable tool nowadays, but if you want to grab its full potential, you need to start learning for something bigger that English. Could be your career, or perhaps a hobby, but you need to be really passionate about it. This will allow you to spent countless hours learning and you won’t feel like it’s a burden.
Effective language learners understand that binge learning is nothing but an illusion of progress. You will see this when trying to learn long lists of vocabulary all at once or when skimming through a textbook chapter after chapter. There will be a moment when your brain will forget the first chunks of information you put in.
This type of learning is based on short-term and is why it’s extremely motivating at the beginning, but it will lead you to burn out eventually. There will be a point when the rational part of your brain will realize it’s not getting the reward it expects and all the euphoria will drop.
Have clear and realistic goals
Although you can definitely become conversational in English in a short time if you are disciplined and consistent, you need to remember that learning a language is an adventure of a lifetime. You will always be learning, and need to keep in mind that it will take you time to master the subtle nuances of English.
This is the reason with you need to set realistic goals for yourself. Instead of saying “I will become fluent in 6 months”, it would be better to think in short-term goals to achieve. This way, you will enjoy every success you have.
Good language learners try to assess their own level of improvement. You can do this by regularly recording yourself and listening back to your recordings. There are lots of ways you can do this. You can use the webcam on your computer, or the video camera on your mobile phone.
Record yourself saying a short text or talking about a topic. Once you have made your recording, watch it immediately and think about how you can improve it. Record it again and then watch and compare to your first recording to see if it is better. Save the best of the two recordings and then watch them again a week or a month later and record yourself again and see if you can improve your recording. Keep doing this and save all your old recordings and after a few months, you should be able to see some clear improvement.
Don’t worry about mistakes
During this journey if learning English, you will make lots of mistakes. This is not only a fact, but something required. Mistakes allow you to become better and to achieve new levels of fluency in English. Ask anyone who you think has achieved a high level of competency in the language. They will most likely tell you that they did it by pushing through the resistance of fear of not speaking well enough, so keep moving forward!
Many students go to class with a notebook and when they finish the class the notebook is still empty, so make sure that you use your notebook during your lesson. Organize the way you take notes. Have a specific part of the page where you add new words you have learned during the class and use another part of the page for grammar notes. When you add new words to the vocabulary part of the notebook be sure to add information about the word such as a translation, the part of speech (whether it is a noun or verb, etc.), make a note of any specific pronunciation features such as silent letters or sounds that you find difficult and remember to add an example sentence that contains the word.
Many students have this idea that by going to a language school, they will receive all the information they need to become fluent. These students are waiting for the teacher to give them all the resources to become better. After a while, such students will either drop or finish the course without achieving their goal.
To master English, you need to go beyond what is required of you. Although having structure is necessary, you need to go beyond this structure and what’s in your coursebook. Research new things, listen to podcasts, ask questions. By taking such a proactive approach to language learning, you will see a dramatic improvement in your skills.