How to learn English in 2021
You have decided that this year you are going to become more confident in English. Have you made a plan yet? One of the best ways of reaching your goals is to break them down into manageable pieces. Here is how to apply the SMART approach to your short-term and long-term learning goals for 2021.
SMART is an acronym which stands for:
Choose something SPECIFIC
First, start by choosing an area you want to improve. Instead of saying ‘I want to learn English’, decide if you want to learn English for work, business, travel, university, research, etc. Then, think of a goal that specifically targets your objective. For example:
- I want to give a presentation in English
- I want to write better emails
- I want to learn vocabulary related to my field of work
- I want to negotiate more effectively in English
Make it MEASURABLE
You need to be able to measure your goals. For example:
- I am going to read 2 news articles every day
- I am going to learn 5 new words every week
Make it ACHIEVABLE
Keep up your motivation by choosing a goal that you will be able to achieve. You know yourself better than anybody, so if you have a busy lifestyle you may not be able to learn 20 new words every day, for example. It is better to learn just one or two new words a day, and have a really good understanding of how to use them. For example:
- What does the word mean?
- In which contexts is it used?
- What part of speech it is – is it a verb, a noun or an adjective?
- How is it pronounced?
- Is this word used as part of an idiom, or is it used to form a phrasal verb?
- Look at example sentences
- Write a short piece of text using the new word
Give yourself enough time to complete your goal. For example, going from level A2 to C1 in 6 months is probably not realistic.
The goal is TIME-BOUND
Don’t forget to set a date by which you want to achieve this goal. For example, your long-term goal could be a work presentation in August. The short-term goal could be learning two new business words each week.
You can motivate yourself to reach your SMART goals by adapting your habits. Here are some suggestions taken from a book by James Clear titled Atomic Habits:
- Make the habit obvious. If you want to read more, put your book in a place where you will see it often.
- Make the habit attractive. Choose a book or a film to watch that you find interesting.
- Make the habit easy and convenient. Choose a book that isn’t too difficult to read or too heavy to fit into your bag when you go out.
- Make the habit satisfying by rewarding yourself afterwards. Give yourself a treat, for example, a coffee, a piece of cake, or a relaxing bath.
Here are some more ideas on how to keep on track with your learning goals using SMART strategies:
- Listen to a podcast and set a time limit of 10 minutes per day
- Change your phone or computer settings to English
- Try to speak English to your friends, or on online platforms
- Join an online course
- Read something in English for 10 minutes every day
- Write an email to a friend in English
- Write a review on a website in English
- Write and answer comments on social media platforms
Don’t forget to write your long-term and short-term goals so that you can remind yourself from time to time and adjust them if your routine changes.
Why not make a start now?
Acronym: a word made from the first
Specific: used to refer to a particular thing
Measurable: something large enough to be noticed and measured
Achievable: a task that can be done
Objective: something that you are trying to achieve
Habit: something that you do regularly
Adjust: to change something so that it works or fits better
This blog has been written at level B1. Practise your reading and listening by reading the blogs below.
More English tips and skills
- English for Human Resources professionals (level C1)
- Working online: what are the implications for language and communication? (level C2)
- How to write effective business and work emails in English (Level B2)
- 10 differences between formal and informal language (level C2)
- 10 books that will take you around London (level C2)
- Top 10 TV series to learn English (level B2)
- Business English for job applications: writing your CV and cover letter (Level C2)
- Business and Professional English - Virtual Groups
- English for Work & Careers
- General English - Virtual Groups
- English for University - Virtual Groups
- IELTS Exam Preparation - Virtual Groups
- Legal English 20-30 - Virtual Groups
- Legal English 30+ Commercial Lawyers - Virtual Groups
About The London School of English
The London School of English has over 100 years of history teaching English and communication skills to adult learners. It is the joint #1 English language school in the UK according to the British Council inspections, the highest rated English language school in the world on Trustpilot, and the best value for money school according The English Language Gazette.
Our practical, individualised approach enables our clients to learn effectively and make rapid progress. Courses include General English, Individual English training, Legal English, Business and Professional English, IELTS preparation and Academic English. We also offer bespoke business solutions for staff training and assessment.
You can learn English with our expert trainers in our London centre at 15 Holland Park Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or you can choose to study English online in groups or in individual classes. Contact us online or via phone +44 (0) 207 605 4142.