The 7 habits of highly effective English learners
Do you ever wonder why some people appear to make progress without even trying? The truth is that behind every successful individual there is a plan with action points. This enables them to use their time effectively and create consistency in their approach to learning. With our guide, you can do the same too.
1. Plan your learning and be proactive
Ask yourself these questions and give honest answers:
- What do I know?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- Are there any areas I would like to focus on?
- Are my listening skills better than my speaking skills?
- What do I want to achieve at the end of my course?
- What do I want to achieve on a weekly basis?
Asking yourself these questions will help you start taking responsibility for your learning journey by mapping out a plan for yourself. Learners who are proactive and take a keen interest in their learning are more likely to achieve their goals. When you book a course with us, this assessment and planning is part of your onboarding so your trainer will be able to make sure the course is tailored to your needs.
2. Take risks
Effective learners are not afraid of making mistakes or sounding foolish when they speak. People often say that children learn languages more easily – this is not true – it is that they are more willing to talk without being accurate and not be afraid to try. As they are still learning their own language, they are used to making mistakes and receiving guidance than adults!
It is very important to take risks, make errors, and learn from that process. Focus on fluency first, and then become more accurate through correcting mistakes and learning.
3. Ask questions and feedback
Asking questions means you are taking responsibility for your learning and engaging with your journey. So often when you ask a question during a class, someone else in your group is relieved you asked the question because they were too shy to ask it themselves. By speaking up, you will not only be helping yourself but a classmate too!
Importantly, asking questions will help you monitor your performance and learn from your errors.
Speak, listen, read and write as much as you can outside the classroom. This is particularly valuable if you are doing an immersion course in London, for example, if you learn new vocabulary relating to food, find opportunities to use these new words after the lesson. Some other ideas are:
Ask a classmate if they would like to spend 10 minutes chatting with you with coffee.
Send an email to a friend who speaks English.
Listen to a podcast about food, read an article about food.
The main point is to keep the momentum going.
5. Track your learning and progress
Monitor your performance and learn from your errors; use a notebook, or a spreadsheet, or perhaps diagrams.
Consider these categories:
At the end of each lesson, think about the feedback your teacher has given you. If pronunciation is a weakness, for example, of the letter /b/, write that down in the pronunciation section. Similarly, if you learn a new word, write it down in the vocabulary section. If you have learnt how to use adjectives to describe feelings and you had problems with some of the new vocabulary, write that down in the vocabulary section.
Tracking your learning experience will help you when you need to study independently. You will have done the preparation and be able to spend time on what you need to focus on.
6. Review, revise, record and practice
Reviewing means taking time to go over what happened in a lesson, your notes, feedback from your trainer, and handouts. While you do that, think about:
What topic are you looking at?
Any questions or misunderstandings you might have relating to the grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation you have learnt.
Was there anything in the lesson which didn’t make sense to you?
Your mistakes in writing or in speaking, and areas where you need to improve to communicate more effectively.
New vocabulary you have learnt.
Once you have done this you will have a better idea about what you need to revise and practise. Here are some ideas.
Create vocabulary cards; on one side you have the word and on the flip side the meaning.
Use post-it notes around your home by sticking them to objects and say the word out loud each time you use it.
Record yourself speaking. Write down a list of words with the sound you are trying to improve and practice saying these out aloud.
Set aside time for self-study and listen to podcasts, watch movies, read English newspapers, magazines or blogs.
Write an email to a friend in English
Write text messages to a classmate.
Ask your teacher for extra writing homework - at The London School of English we are always happy to help!
7. Embrace the gaps in your knowledge
Remind yourself that you are doing your best. Learning a language is a life-long journey, and for it to be enjoyable you need these things:
Fun: use the language for something that you enjoy.
Engagement: have conversations that are interesting, current, and relevant.
People: joining a group course will make the learning journey a lot easier.
The London School of English has a fantastic online portal for students to review and revise their learning. Our independent online lessons cover all aspects of learning English, for example, if you recognise you have problems with the present perfect, there is a module on it. When you feel you have mastered or understood something you can go back into your tracking system and give yourself a great big tick. The more you practise, review, and revise, the more you will improve.
Responsibility: having control over something
Mapping: recording the details of something
Onboarding: the process of joining a course
Foolish: lacking in good sense or judgement
Relieved: no longer feeling anxious
This blog has been written at level B2. Practise your reading and listening by reading the blogs below.
More English tips and skills
- 7 mistakes that English learners often make (level C1)
- How to learn English in 2021 (level C1)
- How to get the best out of your English language immersion (level B2)
- How to choose the best learning method for you (level B2)
- How to overcome negative self-talk when learning a new language (level B2)
- Useful expressions for negotiating (level B2)
- Business English for job applications: writing your CV and cover letter (Level C2)
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